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20 Mar 11.  Guided tour of Laxton and its open field system followed by a visit to the Dukes Wood Oil Museum.
Cloudy and cold.

By an accident of history some of the land around Laxton avoided the enclosures acts and still retains the medieval open field system.
Fields, divided into strips, are farmed in common among the landowners of the village.  Laxton is unique because the open field system
is still alive and in daily use.  Although the village is now recognised as an important heritage site, it is home to working farmers who rely
on the land for their income.  The system is protected today by a Parliamentary undertaking given by the Crown Estate Commissioners
on their 1981 purchase of the Laxton estate and by a Countryside Stewardship agreement held between the Court Leet and the
then Countryside Commission.  The sykes, four areas of grassland, are also protected by SSSI status.

More info at Laxton Visitor Centre and details of the guided walks here.

Laxton village still retains the medieval system where the farms are located in the village.
The buildings are set at right angles to the road and the house, stables, barns etc. form a courtyard.

Within the Open Fields (the brown ploughed areas above) there are grassed areas known as 'sykes' (pronounced 'six')
which are not assigned to any of the farm tenancies and have never been farmed.  The sykes are either too steep or
too wet or were reserved for turning the horses when ploughing and they often contain a road, a drainage ditch or both.
 They have never been contaminated by artificial fertilisers or chemicals and in spring the sykes grow a profusion of
cowslips and other wild flowers.  The grass grown on the sykes is sold at the annual 'Grass Letting' and the farmers
who buy it cut it to make exceptional hay full of many species of grass and wild flowers.

The church is also well worth a visit and is included in the guided tour.

The Dukes Wood Oil Drilling Site is claimed to be Sir Winston Churchill’s ‘Best Kept Secret of the War’.
The site had 215 oil wells producing four million barrels of oil, which was crucial to World War II.
There is a small portacabin on the site, which is ‘the museum’, and features crude oil samples,
cores, historical photographs, drilling implements and military montages.
The site is also an SSSI and is managed by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

One of the preserved 'nodding donkeys'.

The Oil Patch Warrior, a statue by Jay O'Melia.
A tribute to the 44 oil workers who came over from the USA in 1943.
An identical statue is located at Ardmore, Oklahoma.

See here for the fascinating story of how Eugene Rosser and the other 'roughnecks'
from America found themselves working in secrecy in an English woodland.

The Oil Patch Warrior

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