I ventured down to Marsh Lane Fields, to the Lammas Lands – open, free, unfenced common land from the time of the earliest 6th Century Saxon settlement of the ‘Tun by the Lea’ – Leyton.
“Outside the tun lay the land of the settlement, some of it plough land or arable, some grass land or pasture. This land was not broken up into fields by hedges but formed a great open expanse. Moreover, none of it belonged to any one person in particular. The pasture land in the same way was the property not of one but all. A part of it was fenced off until the hay harvest was over to prevent stray cattle from damaging the growing grass. But when the hay had been gathered the fences were removed and the land was left open to the flocks and herds of the villagers.”
– The Story of Leyton and Leytonstone, W.H. Weston
This of course means nought to the London Development Agency (or is it the Orwellian sounding ODA) who have now fenced off one end of the ancient Lammas Land and driven a road across it – colonising it more effectively than the marauding Danes who harried this area in the 9th Century. It’s a depressing sight, this green metal enclosure where allotment holders grow their veg in what appears as a horticultural penitentiary. We will claim it back eventually I imagine – when the running and jumping and flag-waving has finished, we just have to bide our time and remember that it belongs to us and always will.
Have a look at this vid I shot a while back about the protest to save Marsh Lane Fields