Shrunken Post Medieval Settlement at Spernall

Description of this historic site

The site of a Post Medieval shrunken village at Spernall. The site is known from documentary evidence and areas of ridge and furrow are visible as earthworks.

Notes about this historic site

1 The village consists only of the church and rectory and a few scattered farms and cottages. Depopulation occurred in the Medieval period (PRN 550) and in the 17th century the population seems to have mainly consisted of substantial farmers. In 1625 it was described as a place with ‘few or no poor at all in it and many wealthy inhabitants’ and in 1662-74 it appears to have had an average of 2.5 hearths per house.
4 The village did not entirely disappear after the Medieval depopulation, for a small number of houses still lay along the road linking Spernall Hall Farm with Lower Spernall Farm in 1746. These are also clearly shown on a map of c1695 and information on ownership exists for a number of these houses. The earthwork evidence is slight, the most prominent features are their surrounding tofts which gave rise to small lynchets. Ridge and furrow terminates abruptly at the edge of these platforms. One farm site to the E of the lane to Lower Spernall Farm has been ploughed and Post Medieval pot sherds recovered in some quantities.
5 Plan shows location of earthworks of a number of 17th century to 19th century houses.
6 Air photographs.

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