Toft Holders
Wellow Village | Nottinghamshire
All common land is private property - it can be owned by a Lord of the Manor, a Local Authority, the National Trust, or some other public body - but it is called common land because, regardless of who owns it, some others,(not necessarily everyone in a community), has rights over it which cannot be interfered with. Wellow, with over forty acres of common land, is second only to Southwell as the largest common land acreage north of Watford. In Wellow, the common land comprises Cocking Moor, Cocking Moor Lane, the Parish Pound (Pinfold), Wellow Green, Grimston Green, Town Green, and some land known as "wast" ( usually roadside edges) - and Wellow Dam. Wellow common rights belong to the toftholders - a toft was a household, usually a cottage with a small piece of land attached to it, and the establishment of the commons dates back to the Feudal System when the landowners (Lords of the Manor) gave their commoners rights over some parts of their land . It has to be said that the land involved tended not to be the best bits! Although some of the original cottages are gone, replaced by others,the rights remain - which is why, although it is mostly the people in the older properties who retain toft rights, some newer places built later on the same sites share them. The number of people with toft rights has changed over the years, as large properties were divided into smaller dwellings, or as more than one cottage was put together to make one large one. In 1967/68 a national exercise was carried out to get the "rights of common" registered; in Wellow, the toftholders registered their rights, but sadly, nationally, many rightholders did not, resulting in the loss of large areas of land as commons. The toft rights in Wellow allow for the pasturing of animals on the spaces named above - not whole herds, but specific numbers, depending on the type of animal! Now you may be thinking that its' a long while since you've seen any of the toftholders grazing sheep, cows, or anything else, come to that, on the Green! And you would, of course, be correct! But having the right to do that, rather than actually doing it is one of the things which protects the green space for us all. Whilst these rights are guarded, the open spaces around the village should be safe. And although we accept that we all live in the 21st century not the 18th, we would be the poorer if the common land was lost, or allowed to become derelict. The toftholders, therefore, do not own the land, but do, through a committee, look after it, and try to keep it well - maintained. The money for this comes mainly from the fees paid by the Fishing Club, and their contribution is used for getting the greens mowed, and for general maintenance. So Wellow Dam is a valuable asset to the community, not just for its own sake, but as a source of income which enables work be carried out elsewhere in the village.
Wellow Village
The Wellow Village Website