In 1905 Robert Fleming set about creating Rights of Commons over 560 acres of Nettlebed Estate, spread over 8 different parcels of land. This was initiated by a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament resulting in the Nettlebed and District Commons Act (Preservation) Act 1906, which governs the use of the land as Common
The Nettlebed Commons (Preservation) Act 1906 created the position of 9 Conservators, volunteers who are charged with protecting and managing the Commons in the best interests of the people who use them.
A notice was published in the Henley Standard announcing the creation of the Commons.
NOTICE WHICH WAS PUBLISHED IN THE
HENLEY & SOUTH OXFORDSHIRE STANDARD
Friday, November 24, 1905
NETTLEBED, HIGHMOOR, PEPPARD, KINGWOOD AND WITHERIDGE HILL COMMONS
At the request of Mr. Robert Fleming’s representative we publish the following:-
“The commons and Footpaths Preservation Society having again approached me as Lord of the Manor on the subject of placing these Commons under Public Control, and securing for ever from the destruction of the natural beauty of the Commons, while not interfering with existing rights, I have consented that the preliminary steps be taken for obtaining Parliamentary Power to carry out this on the broad lines indicated in the scheme which has already been explained in detail to the Council.
The main suggestions, so far as Nettlebed Common is concerned, are, that I should give to the Public the valuable freehold land on the summit of Windmill Hill, with the exception of the windmill itself and convenient access thereto and a space for water supply, and I also under-take not to cut down the trees that now form so attractive a feature of the Commons.
I may mention that a careful estimate of the Pine Wood near Windmill Hill, which is now so attractive an amenity to the neighbourhood, placed the present cutting value of this wood alone at over £1000. On the Common generally there is a large amount of timber, the cutting of which it is proposed to restrict so that the beauty of the land can never be interfered with in the future.
I have also agreed to expend a large sum in improving parts of the Common, especially the large area of the clay digging ground, and places where stagnant water accumulates, and also to restrict the ground where the clay may be dug in future, as well as to make good a road around the Common – the Northern part of which is practically impassable.
I have also promised to lay out a conveniently placed cricket and football ground on the Common and erect a pavilion.
The Common will thus remain for ever as an open space, properly regulated in the public interest.
The Society on their part agree that a small strip of ground between Joyce Grove and the Reading Road should be enclosed by me and that a few unimportant rights of way, now little used, should be discontinued.
These are the broad lines of the proposal as far as Nettlebed is concerned. They are made on my part in the belief that the people of Nettlebed will derive great advantage from them, and indirectly through the work that will arise in connection therewith, Nettlebed, for two or three years at least, will continue to be prosperous and out of the “unemployed” area.
As far as the Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society is concerned they are of course, put forward purely in the public interest.
I write this short note so that the Parish Council and the people of Nettlebed should know that nothing is proposed that can be other to their advantage.
The Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society will no doubt submit the matter to you in a more official manner at a later date.