Langham in the 2nd Millenium - by David Tew Langham Village History Group
Langham Village History Group
It is thought that between A.D. 1000 and 1275 the climate of England was favourable (rather similar to today) and this encouraged villagers to clear land and extend the arable land. Until 1348 the population of England increased steadily in spite of a number of bad years between 1275 and 1348, but in that year the terrible outbreak of plague known as the Black Death struck Western Europe. In the years 1348-49 it is thought that over a third of the population died. The idea of manorial lords expecting service in kind from their tenants had already largely been changed to money payments in lieu of labour, but the sudden removal of so much of the labour force led to a great deal of tension - the cost of labour rose sharply, a thing which was not liked by employers. A type of land tenure known as copyhold evolved, the tenant holding property “by copy of court roll”. A copyholder had the right to sell or lease his land, and to leave it to his heirs, but he had to pay a nominal rent to the Lord of the Manor, and certain fees were payable such as “heriot” (the Lord’s right to the best beast on a death). There were copyholders in Langham till the system was abolished by the Law of Property Act, 1925. In some unknown way the Abbot of Westminster came to own some land in Langham as well of having a right to the great tithes. There is a record of an attempt by Richard de Ware, Abbot from 1259 to 1283 to recover thirty acres of land at Langham alleged to belong to the Abbey, and in 1297 William de Chevington was Steward of the Abbey’s interests in Langham. The parish church was of course the most important building in the village and would have been used for parish meetings as well as for services. Langham must have been prosperous enough for the present church to be commenced in the thirteenth century - building went on at intervals throughout the following century and in the fifteenth century the roof was raised, the clerestory windows inserted and the parapets and battlements added. In mediaeval times there was another chapel in Langham, though its whereabouts are not known Bishop Dalderby of Lincoln (1300 - 1325) arranged for funds for the construction of “the chapel of the hermitage of Langham” and two hermits called John de Norton and John de Warnewyck were given royal protection to raise money throughout the country. As late as 1393 Pope Boniface IX relaxed penance of pilgrims who gave alms for the repair of St Helen’s Chapel in Langham.
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