Nomansland Common Hertfordshire

November 14th 2016
By: Melanie
Nomansland Common Hertfordshire

At this time of year there is nothing better than a family walk on a Sunday afternoon in wet or shine to take in the air and reduce the onset of early cabin fever. Hertfordshire has a whole host of great outside opportunities not least 52 hectares of open space, situated between Harpenden and St Albans, an area owned by the Althorp estate and Wheathampstead Parish Council known as Nomansland Common.
It’s amazing that in such a popular county so close to London that such common land still exists, offering a glimpse into history alongside a whole host of wildlife watching.  Common land was once called the wastes of a parish; they were often uncultivated patches of land deemed of little agricultural value to the landowner. Historically villagers or ‘commoners’ relied on the commons for their livelihoods, commoners had ‘common rights’ to graze livestock and gather firewood on them. Because the commons were so important to commoners they became fiercely protective of their rights against Lords who might try to take back the land for their own private farms.
Nomansland Common has survived many such attempts to be enclosed, but the common has been hotly contested and that is where its name comes from.  The common lays across two parishes - Sandridge and Wheathampstead and in the 15th Century the monasteries of St Albans and Westminster both contested the Common for their respective parish. The Common acted as the ‘no-mans-land’ between the two warring factions, with over twenty years of disputes until in 1429, a jury agreed that the parishes should share the grazing rights and a boulder of Hertfordshire pudding stone was used to mark the parish boundary it remains a popular open space for dog walks, horse riding, and families who enjoy a ramble.