The Manor of Fyling Court Leet
 
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Common and Commoners

The Common

"The common lands of England and Wales are in general of immemorial antiquity. In certain cases they may be of comparatively recent origin, but in the main they are, in England, as old as English society. The common lands of England and Wales are generally the most ancient institution we now possess; older by far than Parliament, older even than the manor within whose organisation and control they subsequently fell". So wrote Dr W G Hoskins in the Report of the Royal Commission on Common Land 1955-1958.

The definitions of a Common and its Commoners are widely misunderstood. In general we equate a 'Common' with a public place, and 'Commoners' as us, the general public.
This is far from the truth. Common land is generally privately owned. In our case - the Fylingdales Common - is owned by The Strickland Estate. However the Common land is subject to certain rights over its surface, and these rights are held by a very specific group of people called Commoners.

Commoners

Commoners are the owners of property within the Parish, where the property has Registered Common Rights. Each property has a specific set of Rights, broadly based on its size and position.

The most widespread Right is Pasture. This is expressed in 'sheep gaits' for livestock.
1 sheep gait = 1 black faced ewe and follower or 3 geese or 3 ducks
6 sheep gaits = 1 horse or 1 cow or 1 donkey, each with a follower up to 1 year old.

Other Rights are:
Pannage - right to turn out domestic pigs on the moor to forage
Turbary - cut turf and dig peat for fuel
Estovers - take wood for fuel and other defined purposes
Piscary - right to fish
Stones - right to take stone for defined purposes

Some examples of local Common rights:

Fyling Old Hall has 50 Gaits, plus Estovers, Turbary, Pannage and Stones.
Swallow Head Farm has 222 Gaits, plus Estovers, Bracken and Stones.
Wragby Farm has 75 Gaits, no other rights.
Brook House in Raw has no Gaits, but with Turbary and Bracken.


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