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1066 - 1154, The Norman Conquest to
the death of King Stephen

The Landscape

The cultivated land in the Middle Ages and later would not have included the area that remains open space even now : Leyton Flats (the Hollow Ponds area), Bushwood, Wanstead Flats and on the other side of Leyton the Marshes.  Nor would the cultivated land have included Wallwood which was only cut down at the end of the 17th century.  This ‘waste’ would have been a resource as wood for all kinds of use including fuel, and as rough grazing.  Acorns might possibly have been good enough to feed pigs, and that is certainly how the oak trees were assessed in the Domesday Book.  The whole parish was subject to forest law, with the exception of Wallwood for which Stratford Langthorne Abbey was given hunting rights.

With drainage and management the marshes along the River Lea could be used to grow hay grass.  Leyton and Walthamstow used a special ‘Lammas’ system which provided the wealthy landholders with a good crop of hay but also provided the less prosperous with somewhere to graze their animals.  On Lady Day, 25th March the marshes were fenced off and the grass allowed to grow high. This was harvested for hay before Lammas Day, 1st August when the land was opened up for the villagers to exercise their common grazing rights. At one time the lord of the manor let out the rights to take a hay crop in strips which were allocated by rotation or by drawing lots. 1

The main areas of land in Leyton were probably cultivated in narrow strips within unenclosed, open fields.  Frog Row and Blue Row, names given to short sections of what is now Leyton High Road, were old settlements that may have originated as homes for labourers on the fields.

1  This explanation is based one one written by Dave Miller.