The green island of Croft Hill thrusts itself up suddenly nearly two hundred feet out of the wide sea of the Soar flood-plain, standing out for many miles around as an isolated landmark of distinctive shape. It is, in fact, very nearly the physical centre of England. Because of its individual shape and its position it has been the scene of events that might not otherwise have come its way. In the days before settled urban life, before the countryside was criss-crossed with sign-posted roads, and before the roads themselves were mapped, men met together on these isolated hilltops to transact public business, especially if the assembly had to be summoned over a great distance and had to travel over unknown horizons. In such circumstances a widely visible and easily identifiable landmark such as an isolated hill, or an abrupt range of hills rising from an otherwise featureless landscape, was chosen for a meeting-place. The hundred court, one of the oldest of English institutions, often met on such a hill, or at some well-known tree or grove of trees, or perhaps at some man-made landmark like a cross-roads. Thus the hundred court of Gartree in Leicestershire met at the ‘gore tree’, beside the old Roman road and not far from the present Shangton Grange, at a tree standing on a gore-shaped piece of land.
KeywordsCommon Pasture Henry VIII Green Island Waste Ground Parish Church
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- 1.Records of the Borough of Leicester, ed. M. Bateson, vol. i (1899), pp. 233, 235. The mayor’s account for the year 1300 records a payment of 60S. to the jury of ‘Sparkenhowe’.Google Scholar
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- 1.Stenton, Op. cit., p. 204.Google Scholar
- 1.P.R.O. Star Chamber Proceedings, Henry VIII, Bundle 28, no. 57. A very brief note on this suit is given in G. F. Farnham, Leicestershire Medieval Village Notes (1929–33), vol. v, p. 302.Google Scholar
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