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Friday, 1st Feb 2019
The forgotten county
By Tim Porter
Stones in his pockets
Wednesday 24th April 2019
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There are a number of small alleyways, known as ‘tures’, around Stow-on-the-Wold. The ture adjacent to The Talbot leads to Sheep Street. In medieval times Sheep Street would have been pasture land used to pen sheep and livestock on market days, ready for sale in the square. At the time of the relevant sale, sheep would be herded and counted through these tures into the square. It is said that on market days up to 20,000 sheep could be sold, so these tures would have been very busy.
Whilst the tures were used to count sheep and livestock in and out of the square on market days, their history probably goes back to the time of ‘enclosure’ when the Lord of the Manor would have allocated burgage plots to freemen of the town (typically tradesmen and councillors) for a rent of 6d. per annum.
These burgage plots can be of any size, but in towns where the frontage to the High Street is valuable they were typically long and narrow. The basic unit of measurement at the time was the perch (also known as a rod or pole), which is 5.5 yards or 5.03 meters. In most Cotswold towns burgage plots were 2 by 12 perches. You can test this by pacing out the burgage plot occupied by The Talbot through to Sheep Street.
The tures were designed to give access to the rear properties on these long burgage plots, thereby avoiding building extra streets to service the rear properties. Today they are used as handy shortcuts to the square.
The Monarch's Way
The ture adjacent to The Talbot, is part of ‘The Monarch’s Way’. When Charles I was executed his eldest son took up the Stuart cause and made a gallant bid to regain the crown. Unfortunately, having been defeated at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, he was forced to flee to France, passing through Stow-on-the-Wold on 11th September 1651. He later returned to England in 1660 to become King Charles II. The ‘Monarchs Way’ is a footpath that is 615 miles long and celebrates his escape route. It passes through the ture next to The Talbot.