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A landscape of improvement: the impact of James Loch, chief agent to the Marquis of Stafford, on the Lilleshall Estate, Shropshire

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2010
JournalMidland History
Journal number2
Volume35
Number of pages24
Pages191-214
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In 1810 some farms on the Lilleshall estate had achieved a degree of consolidation; however, many remained fragmented, dispersed and intermixed in the old enclosed Shropshire landscape. In contrast within ten years a complete reorganisation and consolidation of farm holdings had been achieved by rationalising field boundaries, constructing access roads, improving drainage and replacing traditional farm buildings with new model farms. Building on emerging agendas concerning estate landscapes, this article examines the improvement of farms on the marquis of Stafford's Lilleshall estate in Shropshire, providing a case study of the transformation of the rural, agrarian landscape. Focusing on the impact of James Loch (1780–1855), chief agent to the marquis of Stafford, it seeks to test the thesis that there was a professionalisation of agents reflected in the improved management of landed estates and the growth of a rural elite. Moreover, in assessing the farming economy of the diverse estate locale and the transition which the landscape underwent to a planned, improved condition, it informs debates surrounding the agricultural revolution, and high farming as its local manifestation, including the adoption of specific farming practices and technical innovations, whilst acknowledging the wide-ranging historical continuities evident in the landscape.