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A Legal History of the English Landscape A Legal History of the English Landscape
A Legal History of the English Landscape
by Christopher Jessel
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Product Details:
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Wildy
Language: English
ISBN: 9780854900879
Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.3 x 2.9 cm
Shipping Weight: 1.000(Kg)
Date Added: 2019-11-28
Search Category: Lawbooks
Jurisdiction: International

Foreword by Dame Fiona Reynolds, DBE, Director General, National Trust


A Legal History of the English Landscape is an engaging account of how the law has played a pivotal role in shaping the English landscape through the concepts of security, inheritance, dispute resolution and transfer of land.

Taking a broadly chronological approach, the book begins with the origins of legal communities in prehistory. The Romans introduced roads, towns and legal procedures to decide disputes. The Anglo-Saxon period saw great changes in the countryside with the spread of monasteries, the creation of a system of farming in open fields and the development of charters and courts to regulate them.

The book considers the Domesday Book and the introduction by the Normans of the idea of tenure which still forms the basis of our land law. In the high Middle Ages towns and cathedrals were made possible because of legal ideas such as corporations and the development of legal procedures. As wealth spread, people other than the aristocracy and churchmen became able to obtain such security that an Englishman’s home became his castle through procedures worked out in the courts and this security encouraged ordinary folk to invest money in building substantial houses.

The idea of property became important at the time of the Civil Wars. After the Restoration in 1660 the squires controlled the countryside through their landed estates. They cooperated with commercial farmers to enclose much of the land previously comprised in the open fields as well as much common land. This was authorised by Parliament which also conferred powers to make new roads, canals and railways. Industry developed mainly under private arrangements as did towns and the book examines how nineteenth-century, middle-class housing estates were organised and financed.

In the twentieth century the state intervened to modify existing rights to land by regulating leases and by the planning system. The account concludes with a view of the modern law in an age of public access to land, environmental laws and European legislation.

There are descriptions of several legal cases illustrating the way the law worked, from a lawsuit between two Roman citizens about a wood to leading cases of the nineteenth century. As conditions changed, once-important laws became obsolete and the author shows how later generations were able to adapt or circumvent them for their own needs.

A Legal History of the English Landscape aims to set land law in a wider context of changes in society and of ideas such as what it means to describe someone as owner of land and how it comes about that Parliament has the power to rearrange the landscape.

"how I wish this book had been available when I began studying law...Christopher Jessel describes the changing social, commercial and political nature of society and shows how the law has responded. Thus you have not only the 'what', but also the 'how' and 'why'. What is more, he presents it in an engaging, narrative style. There is so much to recommend this book. It is outstanding value...it sheds a fresh light on the ancient for the benefit of the modern and will inform particularly those involved in administering trusts and what remains of settlements but more generally anyone dealing with the law of the land"

Geoff Whittaker, ALA Bulletin


The book has pride of place in our bookcase

Table Of Contents:

Contents:ForewordList of illustrationsPreface
1 IntroductionLaw and landscapeSecurityInheritanceDisputes and transferThe use of law
2 Prehistoric to AD43First farmersSolving legal problems before we had lawDividing the landscapeIron Age
3 Roman – AD43 to 450Imperium romanumThe oldest known lawsuitTownsCountrysideLate Roman Britain
4 Early Saxon – 450 to 867Many small kingdomsLocal lawsThe ChurchBooklandThe multiple estateTrade and communications
5 The Making of the Open Fields – 867 to 1066The VikingsFarming methodsGrowth of lordship and the local courtThe Fonthill caseOrganising landholdings
6 Norman – 1066 to 1154Tenure and royal demesneMilitary tenuresThe ChurchManors and the Domesday BookCommercial holdings
7 Medieval Landholding – 1154 to 1348The rule of lawManor and wasteFreeholdsOwnership and the law of the landCorporate action
8 Courts, Charters and Statutes – 1154 to 1348Legal procedureStatutes and the king’s chartersSeigniorial revenues and the power of sale
9 Security and Property – 1348 to 1660Apparent continuity, underlying changeLeasesCommercial farming and investmentEjectmentConsequences of security
10 Law and the King – 1348 to 1660Dissolution of the monasteriesThe Statute of UsesProperty, state and sovereign
11 Landed Estates – 1660 to 1900Three types of estateThe strict settlementManagement and improvementTrusteesEnd of the settlement
12 Enclosure and Inclosure – 1660 to 1900Private enclosureRights over the landInclosure ActsInclosure awards
13 Roads, Canals and Railways – 1660 to 1900Works ActsRoad ActsTurnpike trustsCanals and railways
14 Industry and Business – 1660 to 1900MinesCompanies and commercial leasesPollutionWorkers’ accommodation
15 Towns – 1660 to 1900Early townsHousing the middle classesControlling the townscapeEquipping the town
16 The Twentieth Century – 1900 to 2000Democracy and sovereigntyThe 1925 legislationThe control of leaseholdsState control of land
17 The Law of the Landscape TodayPublic access and conservationEuropean and world lawThe state and the landownerConclusion

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