This needs to be read in conjunction with the three cuttings from the Bucks Herald attached.
Until 1855 both the allotment areas were part of the common fields of Marlow, divided into long strips which the owners were supposed to (but mostly did not) cultivate. Hanging Hill was on Marefield, while Newfield was part of the Lower Common Field. The Berwick allotments are likely to have been acquired by the church when the workhouse was built in the mid 18th century.
The first cutting reports the setting up of the first allotments in the town by the church in 1886. These were the Berwick allotments, which were actually the gardens of the old parish workhouse, which was no longer in use. The setting up of allotments for lease had been allowed by law since 1822, but an amending act in 1882 stipulated that all new charities including land should set aside a proportion for allotments, and encouraged existing charitable
bodies to allow spare land to be used for this purpose. It seems to be this second act which stimulated the vicar and churchwardens to action. Google Earth shows that there are still allotments on this site.
These allotments were evidently a runaway success and were followed in the same year by the foundation of private allotments on Hanging Hill. It is believed that the H. Micklem quoted in the second cutting as the owner was Henry Micklem, a wealthy Berkshire farmer who lived at Rosehill, between Hurley and Remenham and owned two farms there and another in Wokingham. As far as one can judge, this was a charitable act, as he appears not to have been in need of the amount of income that allotment leases would produce.
The same could not necessarily be said for the owner of the tract of land at Newfield, Lt-General Owen Lewis Cope Peers Williams. The Williams family lived in some state at Temple House and owned a great deal of the older and more dilapidated housing in Marlow, but their fortune was based on the dealings of their great-grandfather, owner of the huge Parys copper mine on Anglesey and an astute businessman. By the end of the 19 th century the copper was long worked out and the family fortune was running out, too. With the cottages they owned went strips of land in Marlow’s open fields, and when these were enclosed in 1855 the strips were consolidated. Part of the Williams share was an area bounded by the top of Glade Road, Little Marlow Road and the top of Newtown Road. Most of this was put down to allotments. Over the years much of the land has been put to other uses. In the 1920’s Marlow’s first council houses were built on the junction of Little Marlow and Newtown Roads. Newfield Gardens was constructed just after World War 2 and the flats at Foxes Piece in the 1970s. Foxes Piece School was built as an infants school in 1955 but greatly expanded later to take 5-11 year-olds. It is fair to say that these allotments were not always fully in use. As a child in the 1950s the researcher can remember spending afternoons there, basket in hand, picking dandelion heads for their teacher to make dandelion wine. He paid half a crown a
basket – a small fortune at the time!
It is likely that the Hanging Hill and Newfield allotments were purchased by the council at a later date. Henry Micklem died in 1901, which would tie in with your finding that those allotments became common ground in 1907 and their appearance on the 1914 OS map. The Williams family sold much of their property in Marlow when Owen Williams died in 1905, but the land was retained for some years, which would again fit with the allotments appearing on OS maps of 1935.
The church retains ownership of the allotments on the Berwick site. There has been some discussion of using the land there a cemetery when the present one is full.
With thanks to The Local History Group of the Marlow Society