Bury Field Common
Bury Field is first recorded as a Common in the market town of Newport Pagnell in 1276. More than one hundred properties in the town are registered as having a Right of Common under the Commons Registration Act 1965. The freeholders of these properties are referred to as Commoners and are thus members of the Commoners Association. The current Lord of the Manor is Milton Keynes Borough Council.
The Common is an important and historic asset of Newport Pagnell and worthy of effort to ensure that it is appropriately used for the benefit of residents and visitors to the town. The Lord of the Manor and the elected Management Committee of the Commoners work very closely to achieve these ends.
The Commoners Association
The pattern of life in a local market town changed with the drift to the factories of city industrialists and the inevitable mechanisation of agriculture and food production. As a consequence commoners ceased to use their rights of common to graze cattle and grow crops for themselves or for sale. So the common reverted to grassland which was let for grazing and hay. This annual ‘let’ produced an income which was shared by the Lord of the Manor and the Commoners in agreed proportions after the costs of maintaining the common had been met.
In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to run cattle safely with more members of the public wishing to make use of the area. Leaving valuable stock in such a situation becomes more of a liability than a benefit and the annual letting produces less income and reduces the payments to commoners to a mere token.
More recently still the Lord of the Manor has entered into a ten year agreement for the Common to be run as low output grazing with the objective of encouraging less intensive farming in order to preserve the local flora and fauna. This arrangement is backed by a payment that recognises, at least in part, the loss in grazing income from a reduced rent.
As a consequence, the Commoners Association has taken a decision to put their share of any income into projects which provide information and encourage sympathetic use of the Common on a much wider front. More information about these projects is shown on this website and there are indications that this policy is having a positive effect
Use of the Common
Historically the Common has played a useful part in food production for the local community but that is not so now. The population no longer grows food – it buys food. The Common is therefore only interesting as a provider of space for other activities. These did occur in the past and there were regular fairs with steam engines and amusements; football and cricket were played by many who still live in the town and the Carnival parade was judged on the Field. There are records, but no living witnesses, of horse racing on the Common but there are some who recall a Civil War re-enactment.
Many of these activities have not continued because of the availability of other sites which can provide better and more permanent facilities. Football and cricket have found these in Willen Road and the Carnival can now utilise the Riverside site in the centre of town.
Content Source: BuryField.com