How our landscape has changed!

The parish of Halstead has changed over the years, from when the 18th century  ‘Halsted Place’ was the estate of Robert Bagshaw Esq.


Land use in the parish of Halstead responded to the 19th century boom in soft fruit cultivation for the London market, with its seasonal employment and fast transport.

The map below shows the field boundaries based on the Halstead and Shoreham tithe maps of 1840 and 1843. Equally fascinating are the field names - such as Rock Field, Thistley Field, Great Warblers Field - which speak to us from the past.


This is exactly the same map, coloured-in to bring the field pattern to life.

Some of the coloured land must have been woodland, and some of the un-coloured space will have been used for agricultural purposes, including coppicing.  


Each era has left its footprint, visible in the map below  which shows the distribution of buildings, mostly residential, that exist today.

The clusters of houses in Halstead Village, Pratts Bottom and Fort Halstead are prominent, together with the footprint left by Halstead Place and the modern development along Watercroft Road.


What is also very noticeable is the trace left by the soft-fruit cultivation, with a scatter of widely spaced agricultural buildings subsequently replace by  a succession of private dwellings

The map below shows the resulting islands of residential land use, surrounded and separated by a sea of agricultural land. 


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Strawberry fields, forever?