Decline and disparkment: Management trends in English deer parks, 1500-1750

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Deer parks have been the subject of much research in recent years, but the bulk of this work has focused on the place of parks in the medieval countryside, rather than their later histories. This article examines the fate of medieval parks in the two centuries after 1500, a period usually characterized as one of decline as park enclosures were broken up and turned over to agriculture. While the post-medieval period undoubtedly witnessed significant changes to medieval parks, these need to be set in a longer perspective. Disparkment was not confined to the period after 1500 and many of the management trends in deer parks down to the mid-seventeenth century were continuations of those that had originated in the late medieval period. It was the pervasiveness and more permanent character of certain management regimes, rather than their novelty, that distinguishes the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from the earlier period. The real decline of the medieval deer park lay in the century after 1650, not the century before.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-202
Number of pages28
JournalAgricultural History Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Deer Parks
  • disparkment

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