AgricultureDuring the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the English countryside changed dramatically. Before this time, in large parts of England, the countryside changed dramatically. Before this time, in large parts of England, the countryside was open. It was not partitioned into enclosed lands privately owned by landlords. Peasants cultivated on strips of land around the village they lived in. They also had a common land where all the villagers had access to this for grazing the cows.
With the demand for wool, the rich farmers expanded the land by dividing and enclosing common land and building hedges around their holdings to separate their property from that of others. They drove out the villagers who had small cottages on the commons, and they prevented the poor from entering the enclosed fields. The British Parliament passed nearly 4000 Acts legalising these enclosures.