The Lammas Lands (Overgone Meadow) in 2012 from Borough Road,
with the pond in the middle and the Technical Institute and British School buildings in the distance
The Lammas Lands are extensive:
- Salgasson Meadow alongside Peperharow Road
- Overgone Meadow from Borough Road to the Town Bridge
- Catteshall Meadow from the Town Bridge to Catteshall Road
- Almshouse Meadow from Catteshall Road to the bridge carrying the path down from Unstead to Farncombe
The earliest depictions are in two maps of 1758 (Woods H12 3) and 1759 (Stedman), see below
The Lammas Lands are the remains of a mediaeval field system and derived their name from the practice of keeping all livestock off the area whilst the crops were growing - from February to 1st August (Lammas). (Note: In 1752, England moved from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar, with the 'loss' of 11 days, and Lammas became 12th August)
'Lammas' is believed to be derive from 'loaf mass', a ceremony that celebrated the bringing in of the corn - similar to Harvest Festival, but more specific.
In Godalming, the Lammas Lands were capable of producing several thousand bales of hay. They were divided into areas that were worked by individuals who had acquired rights and were part enclosed from the 16th century onwards, but some of the stones marking the divisions remain.
Carpenters' Company dole stone on The Lammas Lands
"To the north of the Church, just about where the Phillips Memorial is now, lay a substantial house and other buildings. The Parish Clerk, Henry Coston, lived here. He was a farmer in a small way, a guardian of the workhouse, vestry clerk and rate collector. One of his annual duties as Parish Clerk was to proclaim in Church, after the Sermon, that "…. day in the present week, being the 12th of August and Lammas day, all persons were privileged for grazing sheep and cattle in the Common Meadows; this being their hereditary rights" dwelling most emphatically on the 'her-e-dit-a- ry rights?'
Source: Charles Softley
The Lammas Lands were the site of the last public hanging, in 1818. The two men who committed the murder in no. 70, High Street were hanged here. Apparently, the event was well attended and there is a local legend that the depression in Overgone Meadow (now a pool) was caused by the weight of the crowd. Part of the scaffold was later used in a repair to the church spire, and was rediscovered recently.
Going back in time
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