Nostalgia: Tylers Common, Havering’s largest open space

Tylers Common.

Tylers Common. - Credit: Archant

Tylers Common is Havering’s oldest open space.

Tylers Common.

Tylers Common. - Credit: Archant

It does not owe its name to Wat Tyler, leader of the 1381 Peasants Revolt.

The name can be traced back centuries earlier, to “Tigelhurst”, woodland where tiles were made.

The M25 slices through a remnant of that woodland.

The common formed part of the manor of Upminster Hall, granted in 1062 to Waltham Abbey by Earl Harold, later the king defeated at the battle of Hastings.

Tylers Common was then called “Mannes Land” and we know it stretched right to Brook Street, because a South Weald charter has the same name.

“Mannes Land” meant land that belonged to everybody.

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Later, in other parts of England, it became “No Man’s Land” - a place belonging to nobody.

This term was applied to the ground between the trenches in the 1914-18 War.

In 1191, Waltham Abbey was fined by King Richard the Lionheart for enclosing 104 acres of waste land.

Thus Mannes Land shrunk to the 78 acres of Tylers Common.

Eight centuries later, new parkland has been added alongside the M25 - maybe reversing that monkish encroachment.

In 1543, three years after Henry VIII closed Waltham Abbey, it was called “Abbots Wood Common” and described as “waste and wood”.

Writing in 1881, Upminster historian T.L. Wilson said Tylers Common was woodland until about 1800. Local legend said the trees were cut down for Nelson’s Navy.

Another nearby open space, 60 acres on Shepherds Hill, was “furze and heath” in 1543.

Part of Gaynes Manor, and called Upminster Common, it was enclosed in 1846. Tylers Common is often called after its vanished neighbour.

Earlier, in 1814, over 1,000 acres of Romford land had been grabbed to grow food in the struggle against Napoleon - vast commons at Collier Row, Noak Hill and Straight Road disappeared, along with tiny Squirrels Heath.

Tylers Common survived because the owners of Upminster Hall, and lords of the manor, the Branfills, were active Liberals, the party of the people.

They agreed with a popular rhyme:

The fault is great in man or woman

Who steals a goose from off a common;

But what can plead that man’s excuse

Who steals a common from a goose?

But the Branfills could be tough. In 1875, they issued a notice warning “strangers” not to graze cattle and sheep on Tylers Common, and threatening to prosecute anybody camping or lighting fires.

In 1943, Tylers Common was ploughed to grow food in the fight against Hitler.

After the war, Essex County Council, Havering’s forerunner, aimed to keep Tylers Common and fenced if off.

In 1951, local campaigners won a famous court case.

Sensationally, county councillors were “surcharged” - forced individually to pay for their illegal act.

A memorial stone opposite the Common honours their victory.