On the highest point of the village of Harby stands the thirteenth century parish church at the head of a shoulder of high ground stretching to the east. From the church the land slopes down relatively sharply to the north, south and west, with the buildings of the historic village positioned to the west and south. But adjoining the church and stretching east and northeast with only a slight downwards slope is the field called the Wong. This then drops more sharply to the Grantham canal which skirts the village to the north. Halfway down this field is a line of overgrown hawthorn trees, marking the line of a previous hedge.
The earliest map of the village drawn up by Thomas Gee in 1790 just before the enclosures shows the Wong field, named The Wong and with its present hedgeline to the east and west. However it ends at a line, presumably a hedgeline, which curves along the contour of the start of the steeper land sloping down to the canal which was being constructed a this time. The line of the present overgrown hawthorns is shown as a straight line of the enclosure proposals added to the historic landscape two thirds of the way northwards down The Wong. The 1793 enclosure map does not show this line of the hawthorn hedge.
Placename evidence tells us that the name Harby dates back to the Danish "by" or village of Hjortr in the ninth to eleventh century. The wong field name comes from either Old English “wang” meaning ”a piece of meadowland, an open field” or the Old Norse “vangr” meaning “a garden, an infield”. The name is frequently found in our area of the Danelaw of the east Midlands where it is more likely to be from the Old Norse. The enclosure maps and placename evidence suggest that the Wong as it was in 1790 has been the infield of the village from its Danish establishment or even earlier.
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May 26, 2009