A lawn back in time

Ever wondered where the word lawn came from? Well, you’re in luck! Continue reading to dip your toes in the history of all things ‘launde’.

The word lawn is derived from the Middle English word Launde (or old French “Land” originally referred to as an open space in a wood or a glade but later referred to as artificial stretches of land that were similar to glades. There is an additional possibility that the word may be derived from the Breton word ‘LANN’ which means heath.

You will find some places across the United Kingdom that still bear the name LAUNDE, such as Laund in Leicestershire & Lancashire
Far Laund in Derbyshire.

Some of the earliest lawns were the grasslands that were surrounded by the medieval castles in France and Britain with were kept clear of trees so that guards had a clear view of any unwanted visitors. These were also referred to as meadows or village ‘commons’ where villagers would communally graze their sheep (the lawnmowers of the time) who duly nibbled the grass to optimum length and fertilised the soil at the same time, a truly organic process.

During the 16th Century Renaissance, the rich and wealthy folk across England and France would cultivate lawns with thyme or chamomile as opposed to grass and although not as aesthetically pleasing as a modern-day lawn it would have certain create a most pleasant and relaxing scent to the area.

Although landowners grazed sheep the larger parklands or ‘laundes’, they become more and more dependant on human labourers to maintain the grass nearest their place of living, and until the invention of the lawnmowers, they grass was scythed and weed by hand. To be able to afford to hire the number of people to keep your launde looking tidy meant you had a fair bob or two to your name! So lawns were a mark of status.

Woodcut bowling a popular sport was hindered somewhat between the 14th and 16th Century where the numerous Kings of the time prevented the commoners from playing it. But head across the pond to Canada which in the 16th century were treated to an influx of immigrants many (many from Scotland) and woodcut bowling was rife.

Woodcut Bowling 16th century

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