During the 18th century, wealthy farmers enclosed common land. Poor people had had a traditional right to graze animals and get informal food supplies but they didn’t have documentary evidence of that right. Parliamentary ‘Enclosure’ Acts favoured the wealthy, who used a legal sleight of hand to dispossess them. By about 1850, enclosure was completed with just a few commons remaining. One of these was Tylers Common. The rights of the commoners were defended by the ‘lord of the manor’, the Branfil family.
The Battle for Tylers Common
During the Second World War all available land was utilised. Tylers Common was used for food production by Essex Council from 1943. Unlike the 18th century, 20th century commoners had documentary evidence supporting historic rights. No-one anticipated a land grab by Essex Council.
Geoffrey Bing was the local MP and a very senior lawyer. When commoners approached him about the enclosure of Tylers Common he was outraged. He was a formidable opponent of Essex Council and his forensic probing discovered,
…..Essex County Council have…… illegally enclosed this common and let it to one of their members.** (my emphasis)
In the subsequent court case, Essex Council’s refusal to reinstate pre-war common status led to a damning judgment. Councillors were surcharged for wilful behaviour and had to pay costs. Bing, as a lawyer and parliamentarian, trounced Essex Council and Tylers Common remains common land enjoyed by the people of Havering to this day.
* KC: this is the most senior rank for barristers – nowadays QC
For Bing’s parliamentary questioning see https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/1951-06-28/debates/6364ef34-abb3-4d77-8d58-238964525ea6/TylersCommonUpminster
For a Romford Recorder article see https://www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/news/heritage/nostalgia-tylers-common-havering-s-largest-open-space-1-2015231
For a more detailed on-line history of Upminster see https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol7/pp143-153
For the surcharging of councillors see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surcharge_(sanction)
For historic maps see https://www.francisfrith.com/tylers-common/maps
For a brief history of common land see https://www.acraew.org.uk/history-common-land-and-village-greens