|Beating the bounds - "Cursed is he who transgresseth the bounds or doles of his neighbour"|
Paradoxically land owners have proved both anti-hero and downright villain in the history of hedgerows, many supporting and benefitting from the 'acts of parliament', creating hedged or enclosed land, proclaimed during the 18th and 19th century and leading to mass protest, as people were forcibly removed, and hence fought for their rights of access to 'common land'- 150 years or so later people would protest about their removal.
The history of hedgerows is one of contention, confrontation and power brokerage, whether planted of 'grubbed out', as we found out at Highbury Park quite recently. Objections and vandalism occurring as we attempted to reinstate old hedge lines with new plants. Hedgerows and land ownership in Britain have been a physical, political and moral battleground for over a thousand years.
Marion Shoard has much to say on the theme in her book 'This Land is Our Land'
Simon Fairlie's article from the Land Magazine is also wonderfully thought provoking -http://www.thelandmagazine.org.uk/articles/short-history-enclosure-britain
A Short History of Enclosure in Britain
Simon Fairlie describes how the progressive enclosure of commons over several centuries has deprived most of the British people of access to agricultural land. The historical process bears little relationship to the “Tragedy of the Commons”, the theory which ideologues in the neoliberal era adopted as part of a smear campaign against common property institutions.
"The first recorded written complaint against enclosure was made by a Warwickshire priest, John Rous, in his History of the Kings of England, published around 1459-86. The first complaint by a celebrity (and 500 years later it remains the most celebrated denounciation of enclosure) was by Thomas More in Utopia:
"Your shepe that were wont to be so meke and tame, and so smal eaters, now, as I heare saye, be become so great devowerers and so wylde, that they eate up and swallow down the very men them selfes. They consume, destroye, and devoure whole fields, howses and cities . . . Noble man andgentleman, yea and certeyn Abbottes leave no ground for tillage, thei inclose all into pastures; they throw down houses; they pluck down townes, and leave nothing standynge but only the churche to be made a shepehowse.""