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What is Leyton's Lammas Land

  • Lammas - or "Loaf Mass" : first fruits festival at start of harvest
  • Lammas Land : land that is common land between Lammas Day in August and Lady Day in March
  • Lammas common rights first granted locally by King Alfred in 895. But probably the system had operated before then.
  • ALL marshes of Lea valley were once Lammas Land - Hackney, Leyton, Walthamstow, Tottenham marshes, etc
  • All Leyton residents could graze their cows and horses on Lammas Land between Lammas Day and Lady Day every year
  • Strips of Lammas land belonged to different freeholders. They grew hay on it between March and August, to feed animals in winter.
  • Similar systems operated elsewhere in UK. Local details varied.
  • As Leyton became more urban, Lammas Land was used more for recreaation and sport, and less and less for grazing
  • A 1904 Act of Parliament allowed this change to be made official.
  • Freehold of remaining Lammas Land was bought by the Council.
  • Commoners of Leyton voted in 1905 to enchange the grazing rights for
    right to use land as a recreation ground, all year, for ever more.
  • Since 1904, some Lammas land has been exchanged for nearby bits of land (the Act allowed this and includes the new land). Some, sadly, has been fenced off or built on in breach of the 1904 Act.
  • Marsh Lane Fields is remaining area of open Lammas Land in Leyton.

The New Lammas Lands Defence Committee exists to defend and preserve the ancient Lammas Lands of Leyton as public open space, from enclosure, encroachment, and inappropriate use. We also aim to promote their use and enjoyment, and increase understanding of their history and significance, by such means as guided walks, historical talks and social events held on the Lammas Lands. We are the re-formation of the original Leyton Lammas Lands Defence Committee founded in 1892 to "promote the interest of the inhabitants of the Parish in the Leyton Marshes or Lammas Land

By Rosemary Johnson

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