Enclosure Act Document

1393 to 1746 CE

The gradual decline of Southorpe and Eaglesthorpe was not matched by Papley, which in 1517 drew the unfavourable attention of the King’s Enclosure Commission. In 1456 Richard of Papley sold his lands at Papley to William Brown, a Stamford merchant. He died in 1490 and was succeeded by his daughter Margaret whose own daughter married John Elmes.

In 1499 Elmes enclosed 200 acres of land and turned it over to sheep pastures. Seven houses were destroyed. A court case ensued at Star Chamber in 1539 when fines were imposed but the damage had long since been done and Papley had practically become a deserted hamlet. Following the reformation of the Church by Henry VlIl the dissolution of the monasteries was set in train. In 1535 Thomas Cromwell’s commissioners visited the county and within 5 years the various monasteries, nunneries and abbeys were closed, many of the buildings demolished ad lands sold. Peterborough remained largely intact and was created a Cathedral in 1541, but the vast landed estates of the old abbey reverted to the Crown and were eventually sold off. Sir George Kirkham had held lands in the village since 1504 and when he died in 1528 his son Sir Robert Kirkham who built a large house described as his “manor” succeeded him. This house probably stood on the north side of what is now School Lane at its junction with Church Lane and Hautboy Lane. With the dissolution of the monasteries, the Kirkhams bought Fineshade Abbey and sold their estate in Warmington to Edmund Elmes, whose family, as we have seen earlier, held Papley. In 1614 Thomas Elmes purchased the Crown lands and so became the holder of virtually the entire manor.

To establish exactly what they held, the Elmes family commissioned Richard Sumner to conduct a complete survey of the village.  The finished article, produced in 1621, shows maps of the village, of all its open fields, its pastureland, meadows and woodland, and gives the names of landholders and their holdings.  The Elmes family and their decedents held the manor until 1746 when it was sold the Thomas Powys.