ENCLOSURE OF TUGMUTTON COMMON


  

Tugmutton Common was 'Enclosed' by act of parliament at the beginning of 1889.  This was part of a nationwide process of enclosing common land that had begun as early as the 13th century,  but in Farnborough Parish the particular focus was Tugmutton Common.  Here enclosure was seen as the means by which Gypsy travellers could be permanently evicted from this and other common areas.  For some years leading up to this date gypsys had been become accustomed to either over-wintering on the commons before moving down into Kent during the summer to take work on farms, or to living on the commons all year round.

Below are some extracts from the forward of Tugmutton Common - the life and times of William Pateman, written by John Pateman a member of one of these families, and reproduced here with the permission of the author.

The Farnborough Parish Vestry Accounts in the 1860s indicate that there had been concerns about the Farnborough Commons for some time. In 1868, for example, it was noted that 'all persons found digging and conveying gravel, turf or other soil out of the Parish, or improperly encroaching on vacant spaces within the Parish will be prosecuted. The Parish Officers be instructed to prosecute for such offence and the overseer be instructed to prepare the Notice Boards to the above effect.'

No doubt Gypsies were amongst those who improperly encroached on vacant spaces within the Parish. At the same meeting it was also noted that' Mr. Thos. Fox be requested to bring under the notice of the Highway Board the condition of the Lane (Tubbenden Lane) between Farnborough and Orpington Railway Station, with a view to the widening and otherwise improving of the said Lane, and to the dangerous condition of the gravel pits situated at Green Street Green'. Mr. T. Fox was to become a member of the Farnborough Common Protection Committee and the Board of Farnborough Common Conservators.

The Lane between Farnborough and Orpington was known as Orpington Lane (now Crofton Lane) and William Pateman was living there in a van in 1881.

The gravel pits at Green Street Green were later enclosed. These gravel pits were also discussed when the Vestry met at its new location in the School Room at Farnborough Board School on 19 February 1874: 'The attention of the Vestry having been called to the fact that the Highway Board proposed to dig gravel on the portion of Green Street Green Common within the Parish of Farnborough, it was resolved that the Chairman of this Vestry Meeting forward to the Highway Board a formal protest against further removal from the Parish of Road Metal, Gravel, etc from the gravel pits in or upon the Common, and Waste lands within said Parish. That the attention of the Parish Officers be called to the encroachments on the Farnborough Common and the Parish Waste Lands.

So the concem of the Vestry was two fold - to preserve the natural resources (gravel) of the Parish and to prevent encroachments (by Gypsies and others) onto the Commons and waste lands. In 1887 it was decided that these issues should be dealt with by a special committee: 'At a special vestry meeting held at the Board School in Farnborough.

On 16 June 1887 it was unanimously resolved that a committee consisting of the parochial officers and such other members as the vestry deemed it expedient to elect, should be appointed to take such steps as might be necessary for the protection of the cortmon land of the parish'. Those present included : Parochial Officers (church wardens) - T.H. Fox; H. C. Cheel ; (overseers) - J. W. Stow ; H. N. Penfold; Elected Members - W. St. J. Fox; J. Griffin; W. Hughes; R. Sessions. Henry Charles Cheel was a baker; Joseph Stow was a fruit grower; Henry Nathaniel Penfold was a beer retailer; Robert Sessions was the publican at the White Lion, Lock's Bottom; the two members of the Fox family were related to John Fox and Sons, brewers and maltsters, Oak Brewery, Green Street Green: 

This group of local businessmen formed themselves into the Farnborough Commons Protection Committee. Their first meeting was held at the Board School on 7th June 1887 at 6pm. J. H Fox was elected as the Chairman and A. H. Palmer was appointed as Honorary Secretary. 'The Honorary Secretary received a report upon the condition of Farnborough Common at the present time mentioning among other things the presence of a large heap of poles, many hundreds of loads of flints, a large heap of earth, closed sewage and two mamre middens. Besides these things, the common was covered with dirfy straw, old rags and the debris left by a succession of Gypsy encampments. Mr. Penfold spoke in favour of forming a ditch and bank round the frontage of the Common with gates etc. so that no vans could be draum upon it. The Secretary said he intended writing to the Chief Commissioner of Police with regard to the indecency occurring in the Gypsy camp.

After some further discussion it was determined that the overseers should post notices upon the commons on the evening of the 18 June to the effect that if any persons were found camping on the same after twelve noon on the following Monday they would be forcibly removed by the overseers and police.' A letter was written to Mr. Birkett of the Commons Preservation Society containing a list of questions including:

*  What are the Parliamentary and other expenses of placing the Commons under an existing or special act and finally under a Board of Conservators?

*  If Gypsies or other non parishioners pitch upon the Common or waste land at the road side and turn their cattle out to graze (attended) have the freeholders or ratepayers right of action against them?

*  What is the shortest and best mode of procedure to eject these trespassers?

Mr Birkett replied to these questions in a letter from 4 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, on 22 June 1887: 'The Common lands in Farnborough Parish appear to be within the area of the Metropolitan Police Diskict and are, therefore, technically speaking, Metropolitan Commons within the meaning of the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1866. A scheme for managing them can be obtained and confirmed by Act of Parliament at comparatively speaking a small cost. The acts of trespass which you describe as your chief causes of action are precisely those acts which the Metropolitan Commons Act was designed to put an end to, and, when once you have such a Scheme as the Act contemplates, you will have no further difficulty with Gypsies or any other persons trespassing on the Commons. The police have no jurisdiction until the vans are drawn upon the highway, then the police can insist upon their being removed; but the difficulty which seems to present itself to me is that, if you cannot find the Lord of the Manor, I do not know who would be the proper person to draw the vans off.. I think however that if you will tell me the name of the manor of which a court baron was held in 1852 I shall have no difficulty in finding out who is the lord.'

Mr. Birkett further advised the Committee that 'It is invariably awaste of money to take action against Gypsies. If however you know who are the Commoners entitled to depasture the waste, it is competent for them to require the Lord of the Manor or his Bailiff to pound the cattle not properly turned out to graze. The shortest and best mode of ejecting the trespassers are for the proper persons to draw the vans off on to the road and to pound the cattle and horses pasturing there.'

This letter was discussed at the next meeting of the Farnborough Commons Protection Committee, held at the Board School on 24th June at 9pm and it was proposed that' The necessary steps be taken to place Farnborough Commons under the Metropolitan Commons Preservation Act.' The cost of the scheme was reckoned to be no more than £50. In order to guarantee these costs the Committee Chairman, J.H. Fox, offered to contribute £25. Mr. Hughes, Walter Fox and H. Wilson each volunteered to do the siame. On the 25th June Sir John Lubbock offered to contribute and it was decided that the five guarantors would put up £20 each.

Mr. Birkett was invited to their next meeting. At this meeting on 8 July 'a twenty five inch ordnance map of that portion of the parish, containing the Commons proposed to be dealt with was laid on the table; the Commons being coloured green'. Mr. Birkett, acting as Solicitor to the Committee, presented them with a memorial' to sign. Mr Birkett then 'handed copies of the draft scheme to the members, read the same, and explained it clause by clause.' Some corrections having been made it was agreed that the draft scheme 'be forwarded to the Land Commissioners with the memorial'. It was further agreed that 'those present do form the first Conservators, eight in number: J. H. Fox, Walter Fox, J. Griffin, W. Hughes, H.N. Penfold, A.H. Palmer, J.W. Stow and H. Wilson.'

The Committee asked Mr. Birkett how much the scheme would cost and 'he replied that the cost of the proceedings was largely influenced by the amount of opposition met with.' After some further discussion it was agreed 'That an executive Committee consisting of the Chairman (J.H.Fox), the Secretary (A.H.Palmer) and Mr. Stow (J.H.) be formed.'

On 2 July Mr. Birkett advised the Committee that the fees charged by the Land Commissioners in the Chislehurst Commons case amounted to £79. On 22 July it was suggested that 'Mr. George Giles and Mr. Weatherley being important freeholders would be particularly eligible for the purpose of signing the memorial'. The Giles family included Charles (grocer and fruit grower) and Thomas (fruit grower and gardener). James Weatherley was the landlord of the New Inn in Farnborough Village.

On 4 August the memorial was signed by Sir John Lubbock, Mr. Weatherley and George Giles. On 2 September a search was made of 'the Vestry Minute book of the parish of Farnborough from 1718 to 1887 and relating to the Commons therein; a search from which the conclusion may be drawn that since the year 1843 the Vestry has been the sole authority acting with regard to the said Commons, with no allusions to any Lord of the Manor.' The conclusion was drawn that a lease had been granted by the steward of the manor in 1843 to the church wardens.

On 2 October 1887 the Protection Committee received a letter informing them that the Land Commissioners would advertise the draft scheme on receipt of £50. J.H. Fox, W.S. Fox, Sir John Lubbock, W. Hughes and H. Wilson put up £10 each. On 1l October it was proposed that the scheme be advertised in Farnborough Village Post Office (in Church Lane), the New Inn and in the District Times, Bromley Telegraph and Bromley Journal.

On 12 October 1887 the Committee informed Mr. Birkett that 'The manor of Farnborough included the townships of Farnborough, Chelsfield, Lullingstone, West Wickham, Paul's Cray and Keston. The last Court Baron of which there is any record was held by William Grimwood Taylor, deputy steward of Benjamin Badger (The Lord) at the George 23 June 1852.' This information was inscribed at the front of the Committee's Minute Book.

On 13 October 1887 the Committee received a packet of notices and 50 copies of the scheme. The former to be distributed and posted in all the parishes concerned (sites to be noted). The latter to be given to any person who applies and to each of the memorialists. Also that a copy be deposited at the Post Office.' On 14 October 1887 notices were posted 'on the church and chapel doors in the parishes of Farnborough, Chelsfield, Cudham and Orpington and other public places so as to ensure free publicity. The Commissioners will arrange for the necessary advertisements and will communicate with the local authorities of the respective parishes. The total number of notices posted was 150 and the Post Mistress (Miss Harriet Baldwin) was given a gratuity of ten shillings for displaying the draft scheme.

On 2 November 1887 it was agreed that 'the Chelsfield portion of Green Street Green to be included in the scheme and also if possible the Green at Pratt's Bottom.' The vestry at Orpington was also keen for common land in their parish to be included - 'Grumping Common, Darrick Common, Sparrow Common, Broom Hill Common, Skeet Hill and the Gravel Pits. A Supplemental Scheme including any or all of these or Keston Common or Leaves Green may be granted by the Land Commissioners at any future time, as was done in the case of some coflrmon land in the parish of St Paul's Cray which by Supplemental Scheme was added to the old Chislehurst scheme'.

The scheme did not stop people from using the common: 'All legal common rights will be reserved by the scheme. Encroachment only will be stopped. No power is usurped by the conservators but all power, whether of contributing towards the funds of maintenance or of electing conservators, and hence the power of maintaining all common rights, rests with the vestry. The cost of maintenance is a purely volurtary matter. A resolution may be passed in the ordinary way by the Vestry every year that so much of the Poor Rate be devoted to the disposal of the Conservators for the maintenance of the Commons.

The question of representation on the Board of Conservators is one which the Land Commissioners decide.' Some practices on the Commons could continue, such as depositing manure, but this would now be charged for at arate of 'say 6d or so for a year or two at atime, the term renewable at discretion.'

On 25 November 1887 the Orpington Vestry voted to include its Commons in the Farnborough scheme. On 13 December an objection to the scheme was received from Mrs. Mills: 'I beg to state I have put dung and other things on a spot in Leaves Green undisputed for about 30 years. When I bought the property I bought the common rights which it states on my title deeds. I am against the Conservators having the right to turn me off.' This is a reference to the fact that common rights normally belonged, not to persons, but to the property that those persons occupied, cottage, house, or even a field in rare cases. Occasionally, when such properties fell vacant they were never re-let, and if these were not owned by the Manorial Landowner they were purchased, and in both cases the buildings were razed, thus extinguishing the rights by creeping removal. Rights were actually attached to the hearth, which is why so many cottages that fell down naturally, often had the hearth and a bit of chimney preserved so that the rights would not be lost.

The Committee decided that 'all rights, that is legal rights, are especially reserved by the Act and therefore Mrs. Mills can have no cause for complaint.'

On 19 December 1887 the Committee was informed that the Enclosure scheme would be approved at once provided that they received a letter from the Lord of the Manor stating that he approved the scheme. The Committee claimed that the Lordship of the Manor had ceased to exist. On 20 December Lord Derby wrote that although he was in favour of the scheme as a whole he objected to there being no clause giving owners of lands adjoining the commons a right of access from such lands to the public roads. The Land Commissioners agreed to insert a clause in the scheme to this effect.

On 22 December Sir John Lubbock joined the Committee and the scheme was certified on 30 December 1887. Notices were posted in the village and plans were deposited at the Post Office on 20 January 1888. On 8 March 1888 the Farnborough scheme was mentioned in the annual report of the Land Commissioners to Parliament. The Bill was introduced into the Commons on 26 March and by 12 June the Bill had passed through all its stages and was ready for the Royal Assent.

The Farnborough Commons Protection Committee met at the Board School on 28 June 1888. Mr. Stow claimed that a plot of land in his possession by the reed pond at Tugmutton had been included in the scheme without his knowledge or consent. The Committee agreed to write to their Solicitors and request that this piece of land be removed from the scheme. The Committee agreed to base their Bye Laws on those used for Chislehurst Common. It was also agreed to appoint a Common Ranger.

The first meeting of the Farnborough Commons Conservators was held at the Board School on 9 July 1888. Hamilton Fox was elected as Chairman and Walter Fox was elected as Vice Chairman. At their next meeting on 5 November, Mr. Wilson was elected as Secretary. The Conservators agreed some minor amendments to their Bye Laws which were suggested by the Local Government Board. These Bye Laws were then deposited in the Post Office and advertised in the Daily Telegraph and District Times. The Bye Laws were confirmed by the Local Government Board on 31 December 1888. On 10 January 1889 the Conservators agreed to ask Sir John Lubbock for 9 larch poles on which the Bye Laws could be posted on the Commons. Notice was given to the owners of flints, hop poles, manure and other rubbish on the Commons, to remove them within one calendar month, failing which the Bye Laws would be applied. The Conservators requested 'the Vestry, as soon as possible, to levy arate of one penny in the pound per annum to defray the necessary expenses of putting the Commons under the Metropolitan Commons Act.' This was agreed by the Vestry on 28 March.

On 9 April 1889 the Clerk reported that copies of the Bye Laws had been put up, one on the Hill, one by the Rose and Crown, 2 on Green St Green, one on Leach's Green, one on Broad St Green, 3 on Farnborough Common'. The Clerk reported that he had served notices on the owners of flints etc and that they were being removed. He also reported that 'he had written to the Chief Commissioner of Police and had received a reply through Inspector Reilly to the effect that the police would not make the first move or interfere with trespassers but they would always support an official of the Conservators if he took the first step.

He reported that he had banked up the common at the places where vans were drawn on and had also begun to take off the flints and make the Common tidy.' The Conservators considered a letter from W. Hubbard of Bromley asking leave to make a footpath across Broad St Green to the Primitive Methodist Chapel recently built on the border of the Common. The Conservators agreed to improve the existing path. They also agreed a proposal from W. Simmonds to level and lay down a portion of Broad St Green as a cricket ground for a club of boys in the parish of which he was Treasurer. Mr. Roberts was appointed Commons Ranger 'at a salary of £12 a year in addition to any fines he has the means of inflicting'.

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