History of Henley Allotments

Allotments in Henley-on-Thames date from 1844 when the corporation decided that Alleway's piece should become allotments for the poor. However, in April 1846 an application had been received by the corportion for part of Alleway's piece to be used to build a church in the parish of Greys. The land was sold for £375 and Trinity Church and a churchyard constructed on it.

There is no mention of what happened to the allotments, but at some time the area of land known as "The Hangings" became allotments. This is the land now occupied by bungalows in Greys Road.

In 1854, it was decided that Greencroft was to be allotments for the poor. This area has an interesting history. According to Norden's Map of Windsor Forest of 1607, Remenham was part of the forest and known as Fines Bayliwick and was held by Sir Henrie Nevells. The forest at that time extended from Chertsey to Wargrave along the Thames, along the rivers Loddon and Blackwater and then southwards to the Guildford - Farnham road, then to Guildford and along the river Wey to Chertsey.

 

By 1628 it was in the hands of the Rt. Hon. Richard Lord Lovelace, Baron of Hurley. On 9th January 1628 a tripartite indenture was made between the above Richard Lord Lovelace, William Jorman and Edward Bryan of Henley-on-Thames and the Warden, Bridgemen, Burgesses and commonality of Henley-on-Thames in which two pieces of land called summer leayes and Greencroft, totalling 20 acres in all, were paid for by Jorman and Bryan and ownership passed to Henley-on-Thames for charitable purposes. The sum paid was £40 and the boundaries of the land were abutting the London Highway (this was the original London road which has since been moved northwards twice), Remenham Lane (which at that time followed the line of the footpath past Leander and across the Regatta Meadow to the present Remenham Lane), a meadow occupied by John Maryott and lands called the Deanes. By 1737 the Deanes appear to be called the Beans or Binns.

The year 1855 saw Shards piece become allotments at 6d per pole in 40 pole plots at £1 per plot. In 1856 the Great Western Railway wanted to purchase part of this land for the new railway station.

In August 1911 an Allotment Association was formed. At the same time Newton Allotments were created, 4½ acres for 52 tenants at 8d per pole and 3½ acres at 7d per pole.

In connection with the war effort, it was decided that all small plots in the town were to be allotments. There were spaces in Western Road, Cromwell Road, Belle Vue Road and Berkshire Road. Pig keeping laws were relaxed to 200ft from dwellings and some pig keeping was allowed as a result in Belle Vue Road. Allotments came into being on George Walton Turner's lower field (next to Trinity Hall).

 

This land was subsequently bought in December 1919 for the Borough's first Housing Scheme, totalling 13½ acres. It is probable that Abraham’s allotments came into being at the same time. In June 1920 the Abraham's Allotments were up for sale following the death of the owner, Sir Frank Crisp, of Friar Park. These, therefore were at that time privately owned allotments. A committee was formed to see if they could have first offer and an offer at £650 was made to the estate of Sir Frank Crisp. This was not successful as Mr. W. Morris acquired the land.

In August 1920 Waterman's field was suggested for allotments due to building on land in the Harpsden Road that was owned by G. W. Turner before its acquisition by the Borough.

Newton’s allotments were purchased from the Grammar School Governors for £1,000 in July 1927.

In October 1927 sanction for a loan to buy Abraham’s Allotments was sought. Later, in February 1929, it was suggested that the Fair Mile Allotments be purchased.

 

In 1929, according to a copy of the Allotment Association Rules book there were 5 allotment sites:

  • Abraham's Gardens

  • Greys Road

  • Newtown Farm

  • Greencroft

  • Newtown

 

By April 1935 the purchase of Abraham's allotments from Mr W. Morris was sanctioned at a cost of £1,000.

 

In February 1937, Alderman Dee gave a piece of land of about 4 Acres known as Waterman's Field as playing fields to commemorate the Coronation and in memory of Sir Anker Simmons. It was accepted but later used as allotments.

The purchase of the Dean (once called Gyldondene) for allotments at a cost of £1,000 was completed in January 1946. This was known as Deanfield Allotments.

In the late 1950's Waterman’s Field was used for building the Waterman's Estate and the current Waterman’s Allotments created. The Newtown allotments were later used to build Elliot’s the builder's merchants, now Gibbs and Dandy. No new allotments were acquired to replace these as demand for allotments was declining. Abraham's was also used for local authority housing at about the same time.

 

Deanfield was reduced in size twice before finally closing in 1984, the allotees going to either Watermans or Greencroft, these two sites being all that remain of Henley-on-Thames allotments.

 

Compiled by Peter Anderson from the note books of the late John Crocker and S. J. Halton, courtesy of Henley-on-Thames Archaeological and Historical Group.

To read an interesting article on the history of allotments and the reasons people want them, click on this link...Allotment Gardens

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