The Manor of Fyling Court Leet
 
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Garths & Common Land

The Court Leet is the guardian of the 6,911 acres of moorland which are common to the Parishes of Hawsker-cum-Stainsacre and Fylingdales.

On the periphery of the moor there are 67 garths and enclosures, covering in total over 320 acres and ranging in size from small garden-sized plots to over 70 acres in the case of the largest enclosure. These 'Encroachments' or 'Garths' are subject to annual renewal and each occupier is 'fined' at the rate assessed by the Affearors, and are required to be paid each year at the Annual Meeting of the Court.

Occupants of a Garth or enclosure can do basically what they want with the land with a few provisos:

* No buildings can be erected
* The land must be maintained in good order including ditches, hedges and fencing

Rights of Pasture

Rights of grazing were assessed for centuries according to the principle of levancy and couchancy, under which the number of animals was limited by the requirement that they must be maintained in winter on the land to which the rights were attached.

This ancient system was superseded by the Commons Registration Act 1965 which required that grazing rights should be registered.

Garths are available only to the residents of the Parish of Fylingdales. The larger enclosures are available to the residents of both Fylingdales and Hawsker-cum-Stainsacre Parishes.
It is normal that residents would have the occupancy of multiple Garths and enclosures.

Sheep Farming on the Moor

The steady decline in sheep numbers in recent times poses a serious threat to the well-being of the Common. Of the 5,538 sheep gaits registered, less than 2,000 are used; of the 41 registered holders of grazing rights, only four now exercise their rights on the open moor.

Two large sections of the Common - the whole of the Brow / Howdale / Stoney Marl Moor and the area north of the Sledgates road and east of the A171 - are unfenced and therefore ungrazed.

In view of the poor returns for much hard work, it seems likely that this process of retraction will continue, with unfortunate results. Low sheep numbers inevitably lead to a reduced incentive to restrict the spread of bracken and scrub, and to manage the heather by burning and cutting.

However the longer term prospects may now hopefully be improved by the introduction of the new High Level Stewardship Scheme. This was started in summer 2010 and is intended to encourage graziers to put more sheep on the Moors.


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