Gerrards Cross Common, which extends over some 32 hectares is situated immediately north of the A40 and is bounded by part of Bulstrode Way, West Common and East Common and is bisected from South to North by Packhorse Road.
It exists as we know it today as the result of a disastrous fire which burned for three months in 1921. The first vegetation to return was heather and gorse, but this eventually was replaced by four areas of open grassland, incorporating the two ponds on West Common, and the rest by woodland, mainly silver birch and oak, some of the latter developing as solitary and outstanding specimens.
The area is called a “common” because it is common land of the Manor of Chalfont St Peter over which owners of adjoining properties were entitled to graze animals. It is owned by Mr David Baldwin the Lord of the Manor and was managed by the Manor Court until 1920. The Court rolls run from 1308 until 1936 and can be seen online at www.chalfontstpetermanor.co.uk
However, South Bucks District Council had previously vested management interests, and therefore all financial costs appertaining thereto, in the Town Council. It is our responsibility to keep all the grass cut, to monitor the many paths and keep them in good order, cutting back brambles and holly on either side, to supply seats, litter and dog bins at strategic points, to care for all the trees, to keep the ponds as attractive amenities, and to supply, maintain and inspect weekly (for safety reasons) a substantial area of children’s play equipment on East Common.
Byelaws introduced in 1981 govern what may and may not be done on the Common. These are exhibited on the Town Council’s Notice Boards in the Packhorse Road and outside its offices at the Memorial Centre.
Gerrards Cross Commons Byelaws.
Our major annual cost is the grass cutting contract, including strimming in all areas too difficult for the tractor. From time to time we are faced with a large individual item, such as protecting West Common from further invasions by Travellers and their vehicles and plans are advanced to provide the same protection for East Common.
Latchmoor Pond is of special interest as it is home to a very rare water plant, damasonium alisma (Starfruit) and has received attention from Plant Life and the Conservation Volunteers.
The Common is available at all times and to all people; it is used regularly by several football teams and occasionally by a group of American boys who come to play baseball, and twice yearly by a visiting Fair. Dog walkers frequent it daily and it provides exercise and recreation for so many pedestrians, especially for those residents south of the Oxford Road coming into the centre of the village. We just ask that all users will respect the Countryside Code and leave nothing behind but their footprints.