In 1086 cultivation
was probably concentrated in the north of the
parish, while the woodland for 1,000 swine perhaps lay south of the Black brook. The large and
increasing number of bordarii, and the 80 goats,
may suggest that woodland clearance was in progress. In 1086 there was only 1 demesne plough
compared to 11 ploughs held by the 17 villani
and 27 bordarii. The pastoral economy was
clearly important to the manor; as well as pigs
and goats, there were 22 beasts, presumably
cattle, and 200 sheep. There was 40 a. of
(fn. 62) Part or all of the manor lay within the royal forest in 1130 when 10 marks was received for forest pleas from the lord of the manor's widow.
In 1282 the Langham Hall demesne had 258 a. of arable worth 2d. an acre, 20 a. of mowing meadow, 6 a. of pasture, underwood, assized rents worth 18s. 6d., and labour services worth 63s. 4d.
(fn. 64) By 1335 the arable had shrunk to 105 a. worth 4d. an acre when sown and 2d. when fallow because of the sandy and stony soil. Crops sown that year included 7 a. of wheat, 40 a. of rye, and 30 a. of oats, while 23 a. lay fallow. There was also 10 a. of meadow worth 3s. an acre, and 2 a. of pasture worth 1s. an acre. Some labour services may have been commuted between 1282 and 1335, as the 288 works owed by each of 6 customary tenants were worth only 12s. in 1335 (½d. each work) while assized rents had risen to £10.
(fn. 65) Nonetheless, the demesne farm still used some boonworks in 1400.
(fn. 66) The farm grew rye and oats in the early 15th century.
(fn. 67) By 1414 it was leased,
(fn. 68) and a lease of 1557 recorded 75¼ a. of arable, 162 a. of pasture, and 8 a. of meadow.
In 1257 Wenlocks comprised 40 a. of arable, 10 a. of pasture, 5 a. of meadow, and 2 a. of wood in Langham, and 15 a. of arable, 2 a. of pasture, and 1 a. of meadow in Boxted.
(fn. 70) Langham Valley comprised 40 a. in 1575, but Robert Vigerous had expanded it to 80 a. by 1581.
In 1413 a widow leased 24 a. of 'ware' land for 7 years at 6s. 8d. a year (3.3d. an acre),
(fn. 72) and in 1425 four other women, perhaps all widows, leased land similarly.
(fn. 73) By 1721 Langham Hall manor had 114 holdings with a rental of £36 9s. 10½d., which had risen to £37 16s. accruing from c. 80 tenants in 1741.
(fn. 74) In comparison, the tenanted land of the rectory manor was much smaller; in 1610 its 9 copyholds comprised 23¼ a. and paid 45s. 2d. rent. There were no freeholders.
(fn. 75) On both manors the inheritance custom remained Borough English until the later 19th century.
By 1838 large closes characterized the fields in the north of the parish, perhaps reflecting consolidation on the Langham Hall demesne, and also those on farms established within Langham park. In contrast, there were areas in the centre of the parish, such as at Mott's farm and land along the Black brook, where small irregular fields predominated, suggesting earlier woodland clearance. A third pattern, especially striking between School Road and Park Lane, consisted of regular strip like fields not dissimilar in appearance to inclosed furlongs of former open field land.
(fn. 77) If some form of communal agriculture had once been practised it was early inclosed as the landscape was typically divided into irregularly shaped units of 1 a. or 2 a. called 'lands' or 'closes' by the 15th and 16th centuries.
Medieval peasant farmers grew and traded rye and oats.
(fn. 79) A garden was planted with saffron in 1499.
(fn. 80) Hops were grown by 1599-1600.
(fn. 81) In 1358 a herdsman possessed 7 cows, 3 young oxen, 2 calves, 34 sheep, 1 horse, and 4 pigs,
(fn. 82) but a cottager paid no heriot in 1391 because he had no animals.
(fn. 83) Nine tenants who trepassed on the demesne in 1400 owned at least 2 horses, 40 cattle, 110 sheep, and 70 pigs; one of the tenants alone had 10 cattle, 40 sheep, and 30 pigs.
(fn. 84) In 1404 Agnes Herde had 11 cows and 10 pigs, a combination that suggests dairying.
(fn. 85) The 'northern steer' recorded in 1479 indicates the import of cattle, possibly for fattening.
(fn. 86) Just over half the land on ten tenants' holdings between 1556 and 1601 comprised arable, just under one third pasture, and the rest wood or meadow.
(fn. 87) Many cattle were recorded in the later 16th century,
(fn. 88) and sheep during the 17th century.
(fn. 89) The commons were overburdened in 1513 and 1587.
Men from Colchester, Boxted, Dedham, Ardleigh, Stratford St. Mary (Suff.), and Stoke by Nayland (Suff.) poached the lord's warren in 1414 and later years.
(fn. 91) In 1546 English spaniels were used to hunt the lord's hares and rabbits illegally.
Six tenants failed to maintain the park enclosure in 1408, presumably where it abutted their holdings.
(fn. 93) In 1512 a tenant wasted the park by cutting down timber in Frosts grove, near Pond Farm cottage.
(fn. 94) In 1537 two men hunted deer with greyhounds and a Dedham man demolished and carried away the park pale. The tenant of Frosts was ordered to maintain the park ditch between Catsgrove and the deer leap.
(fn. 95) In 1538 the pale was 'decayed' but 240 deer remained.
(fn. 96) The pale was broken again in 1546 and the manor court forbade inhabitants from pasturing their cattle in the park without good cause, on penalty of 3s. 4d.
In the 15th century small enclosed woods and pieces of alder grove outside the park probably produced coppice wood and faggots,
(fn. 98) but most of them were grubbed up for arable before or during the 19th century. Alefounder's wood, Havens wood, Crane's wood, Baldwins grove, Catswent wood, and Lynche's or Dobitor's grove on New House farm were all arable by 1838. In that year even part of the steep terrain at the Coombs was cultivated.
(fn. 99) Langham park continued to provide an important reserve of timber; in 1722 it had several thousand trees in 17 named fields or woods. A Stowmarket timber merchant bought 160 of the largest oaks in 1725 and four years later another 600 trees were sold.
(fn. 1) Langham Lodge woods still covered a large area in 1777, and slightly more than half of the park was still woodland in 1838; Lodge wood then comprised 248 a. and Kiln wood 26 a.
(fn. 2) Those woods presumably provided employment for the 5 woodmen and 13 carpenters in 1841,
(fn. 3) and for the timber merchant recorded in the 1840s.
(fn. 4) In 1905 the whole parish had only 5 a. of coppice, 20 a. of plantation, and 173 a. of wood, most of it in Langham park.
East meadow was first recorded in 1370
(fn. 6) and North meadow in 1438. Doles appear to have been attached to particular holdings rather than redistributed annually: in 1438, for example, Snoutesland had 1½ a. in North meadow called Snoutesmeadow.
(fn. 7) In 1547 the stints in both meadows for a 1 a. holding were 4 animals, presumably cattle, and 2 horses.
(fn. 8) In 1838 c. 54 a. in North meadow was divided into 71 doles and c. 31 a. in East meadow into 25 doles.
(fn. 9) By 1902 stints had fallen to 2 head of cattle an acre.
In 1282 Langham Hall had a fishery worth 4s. a year.
(fn. 11) A fishery was recorded at the mill in 1406 and 1409,
(fn. 12) and eels were poached from the millpond in 1422.
(fn. 13) By 1429 the manor's fishery stretched from Stratford bridge to Roxford (probably the name for the confluence of the rivers Stour and Brett near Higham church (Suff.) later known as Higham Thorpe or 'The Three Waters').
(fn. 14) In 1443 a Stoke by Nayland (Suff.) man obstructed the fishing boats by building a bridge over the river,
(fn. 15) and in 1478 four men poached the fishery between Stratford St. Mary and Langham.
(fn. 16) Part of the fishery was leased between the 15th and 19th centuries.
Tolls on the Stour Navigation listed c. 1740
included those on barley, oats, malt, and bran,
expanding to include wheat, flour, peas, beans,
and clover seed by 1842. In return coals were
brought to Langham.
(fn. 18) Before c. 1730 the glebe
was improved by 'chalk rubbish', perhaps
brought by water.
(fn. 19) In 1791 Langham Valley
farm's location alongside the Navigation was
convenient for the shipping of corn and the
landing of manure.
(fn. 20) In 1740 the lessee of
Langham Hall was not to take more than two
crops except turnips without sufficient fallow
ploughing after every second crop 'according to
the usual course of the country'.
(fn. 21) By 1770 the
use of clover, peas, and beans was expected.
Yields for wheat and barley were average in the
later 18th century.
In 1838 the Langham Hall estate comprised
c. 1,334 a., just under half of the whole parish.
The home farm of 323 a. was leased for most of
the 19th century.
(fn. 24) Some tenants and owner occupiers also farmed several hundred acres, but
most farms had less than 50 a.
(fn. 25) In 1861 the
main farms were Langham Hall (439 a.), Langham mill (212 a.), Woodhouse (300 a.), Langham Valley (420 a.), Highfields (104 a.), and
Park (225 a.) farms.
In 1801 the main crops were wheat (407 a.),
barley (316 a.), oats (225 a.), turnips or rape (312
a.), and peas (73 a.).
(fn. 27) Cole seed and tares were
potential crops at Langham Valley farm in
(fn. 28) The four course system stipulated on the
Langham Hall estate in 1837 and 1864 was (1)
fallow and turnips (or mangolds by 1864) for
feed, (2) barley or oats and good clover with or
without trefoil or rye grass, (3) clover lay or half
peas and beans where clover failed, (4) wheat.
If fodder was removed it had to be replaced with
manure in 1837, or by guano or chalk in 1864.
In 1870 the main crops were wheat, barley, oats,
beans, and peas.
(fn. 30) A malting was recorded in
(fn. 31) and maltsters between 1848 and 1866.
In 1875 Woodhouse farm (168 a. in Langham
and Boxted), later Maltings farm, had a 23 coomb steep malting.
(fn. 33) Stopes and Son, maltsters, recorded in 1882, had ceased trading by
When incendiarists set light to buildings at
Wenlocks farm in 1816, protest against mechanical threshing was suspected, although the
farmer had never used a machine.
(fn. 35) Arson was
reported at other farms in 1817, 1832, and 1837.
A branch of the Labour League was established
c. 1876, although Langham farmers threatened
to dismiss all those who joined.
(fn. 37) In 1892 Langham was one of 17 Essex branches of the Eastern
Counties Labour Federation (E.C.L.F.).
Eight shepherds were recorded in 1851 and
(fn. 39) and the agricultural depression towards
the end of the 19th century may have further
encouraged livestock farming. Langham Lodge
farm had been converted to dairying by 1894.
In 1902 Langham Hall had a large herd of young
shorthorn cattle. The tenant at Broomhouse
kept 300 sheep, including Suffolk ewes and
Lincoln tups. Many farmers fattened stock from
Shrewsbury and the Midlands bought from
(fn. 41) Two brothers were poultry
dealers in 1891.
(fn. 42) In 1905 there were only 2
farms over 300 a., 11 between 50 and 300 a., 9
between 5 and 50 a., and 5 under 5 a. The main
crops were wheat (234.5 a.), barley (255 a.), oats
(432 a.), turnips and swedes (229 a.), mangold
(166.5 a.), and peas (51 a.), with smaller quantities of rye, beans, potatoes, cabbage, kohl rabi,
rape, vetch or tare, and lucerne. There was over
300 a. of grass, two thirds of it mown, and 900 a.
of clover, four fifths of it grazed. Livestock
included 286 cattle, 980 sheep, and 295 pigs.
Blackcurrants were grown at Langham Hall
farm in 1914.
(fn. 44) About 1933 J. F. Harter of
Highfields farm established Langham Fruit
Farms Ltd. to supply soft fruit to a canning
factory in Colchester; the firm's lands also
included Martins farm, Glebe farm, and later
(fn. 45) F. E. Williamson established
Williamson Fruit Farms Ltd. at Park Lane farm
c. 1935, later expanding to include School farm
c. 1942 and Park farm c. 1948. In 1968 much of
Martins farm, Glebe farm, School farm, Park
Lane farm, and Maltings farm were still given
over to orchards and soft fruit,
(fn. 46) but production
ended at Martins and Glebe farms before 1976,
and at Maltings farm, where there had also been
a vineyard, in 1994.
(fn. 48) Williamson Fruit Farms
Ltd. had extensive orchards and soft fruit in the
centre and south of the parish in 1999; the main
packing station was at School farm. Pips planted
from a Worcester Pearmain cross in Moor Road
produced the widely grown Discovery apple
sold from 1962.
Potatoes grown at Little Hall farm were sold
at Smithfield market in 1965.
(fn. 50) Langham Lodge,
a dairy farm before 1988, grew linseed, barley,
and wheat in 1999.
(fn. 51) Sugar beet, peas, hemp,
barley, and wheat were then grown on Maltings
farm, and sheep brought from outside the parish
were fattened on turnips at Langham Hall.
A man surnamed Fuller in 1319-20 perhaps
fulled cloth at Langham mill.
(fn. 53) Dyehouse land
in 1401-2 may also record clothmaking
(fn. 54) In 1478 a dyer and a shearman
poached fish from the Stour.
(fn. 55) Although less
important, Langham's cloth industry was similar in type and closely associated with that of
Dedham. It had perhaps declined by the earlier
(fn. 56) but apparently expanded again
with the arrival of the new draperies in the later
16th century, clothiers being recorded in 1553,
(fn. 58) 1593, and as many as four in 1591.
Weavers were recorded in 1595 and 1599,
(fn. 60) and
shearmen in 1546 and 1567.
(fn. 61) A dyer used woad
for dyeing blue cloth in 1593.
(fn. 62) The Act for the
Boxted clothiers was extended to Langham in
In 1602 overseers were appointed to ensure
observation of an Act for controlling the quality
(fn. 64) and many clothiers and weavers were
recorded in the early 17th century.
(fn. 65) The industry in both Langham and Dedham was
depressed by 1629 and the inhabitants threatened with ruin,
(fn. 66) although two Langham weavers were recorded in 1632,
(fn. 67) and a broadcloth
weaver in 1644.
(fn. 68) The clothiers of Dedham and
Langham joined those of Suffolk to petition
Parliament and the Crown about the trade in
(fn. 69) Clothiers were recorded in 1685, 1689,
1692, 1712, and 1756 and the trade apparently
ceased towards the end of the 18th century.
A mason was recorded in 1383.
(fn. 71) The field
name Tyledoune, recorded in 1420, may indicate tilemaking;
(fn. 72) a brickmaker was recorded in
(fn. 73) The names Kiln field and Kiln wood in
Langham park, and two Potters fields survived
(fn. 74) A wire drawer was recorded in 1621.
In 1425 Thomas Baker of Colchester removed
an old house called 'la Shoppe' from a holding.
Shops were recorded in 1638 and 1675,
(fn. 77) and in
1754 there was a chandler, a grocer, and two
(fn. 78) By 1775 there were five chandlers, a
chandler and butcher, another butcher, and a
(fn. 79) A shop built on the waste next to
the Colchester-Ipswich road in 1838 presumably served passing traffic.
(fn. 80) Three shops were
recorded in 1848 and 1863;
(fn. 81) one of them was
probably Lilley's at Pungford Cottages where a
grocer and 3 shop assistants were employed in
One mill was recorded in 1066 and two in
(fn. 83) In 1273-4 one ground corn and the other
(fn. 84) In 1335 the two mills were worth
(fn. 85) In 1474 one of them was apparently
known as the middle mill and the other the west
mill; the former was probably on the site of the
later Langham mill and the latter perhaps near
(fn. 86) In 1405 one of the mills had no
millstone and its millhouse was ruined.
(fn. 87) It had
been repaired by 1420.
(fn. 88) In 1423 the corn mill
was leased to a miller from Ardleigh, the miller
maintaining the millhouse and the lord repairing
the mill and dam.
(fn. 89) The fulling mill was apparently demolished between 1510 and 1515.
(fn. 90) In
1752 Langham mill could be used as either a
corn or a fulling mill.
(fn. 91) By 1779 it had been
rebuilt in brick,
(fn. 92) and in 1837 it had an attached
country house, a miller's house, and a small
(fn. 93) In 1861 the miller farmed 212 a. and
employed 10 labourers, 5 millers, 2 maltsters,
and 3 carters.
(fn. 94) Milling apparently ceased between 1910 and 1912, and the mill was demolished c. 1928.
In 1800 a windmill on the Dedham road was
moved to a site near the Colchester-Ipswich
road, using an engine constructed for the purpose. It had apparently ceased working by
(fn. 96) Another windmill, erected c. 1818 at
Mandevilles (later Old Mill House), was still
working in 1882 but was demolished c. 1906-7.
In 1841 over half the working population were
agricultural labourers, and the rest mainly farmers or workers in agricultural support trades;
the inhabitants were therefore more dependent
upon farming than those in neighbouring parishes.
(fn. 98) There was a slight decline in the number
of agricultural labourers over the 19th century
to about 40 per cent of the working population
by 1891. The number of women employed as
out workers for the Colchester clothing trade,
recorded as 7 in 1851 rising to 16 by 1891, was
fewer than in many neighbouring parishes.
(fn. 99) In
1898 tradespeople were limited to two grocers,
one of whom was also a farmer and the other
also a bricklayer, two shopkeepers, a baker, a
blacksmith, and a wheelwright.
Dependence upon agriculture continued into
the earlier 20th century. The only tradesmen recorded in 1933 were two shopkeepers, a grocer,
a boot repairer, and a blacksmith. The 'Allstop'
restaurant on the Colchester-Ipswich road was
established between 1929 and 1933.
(fn. 1) A little
more variety developed in the later 20th century,
local businesses in 1999 including furniture
removals, carpenters and joiners, an engraver,
and a motor repair workshop. The former airfield site contained light industrial premises and
a large agricultural supplies firm. The village
had a shop and post office, and a service station
garage on the Colchester-Ipswich road.