History of the allotments

Many allotments in the United Kingdom were laid out in the 20th century and are council owned, a result of the various allotments and small holding Acts passed by Parliament between 1908 and 1950. The Alveston and Tiddington allotment site is much older though, and is sited on land owned by the Church of England rather than the local authority.

In 1722 the Alveston Enclosures Act was passed, which did away with the historic small scale commons strip farming in the area for larger, more consolidated and privately owned farms. As part of this Act, the Church of England was allocated a tract of land in Alveston between the old (then current) church and Pimlico Lane. This land would have been under the control of the local priest and his church wardens and either used by them, or rented out to members of the parish who didn’t own land themselves.

In 1810 an Alveston resident called Mrs Ann Jenkinson of Alveston Villa (now known as Kissing Tree House) had a will produced that included a bequest of £500 to be invested and used for the benefit of the poor inhabitants of the parish. Ann died on 20th December 1812, but it was not until 26th November 1831 that the High Court of Chancery directed that this money was to be used for the purchase of allotments for use by the poor, and for the distribution of clothing, bedding, food, coal, or money. Over those nearly 20 years the legacy ha been invested in shares and the dividends paid out on those added back in, so that by the time of the High Court of Chancery ruling the charity was worth £1253 4s 3d. Back then, this was a considerable sum of money, though

As a result the allotments were set up on nine acres of land owned by the Church by Michaelmas 1832, with the administration of the charity run by a board of six trustees. The annual rent of the land was £20 5s 0d and it was divided into 36 allotments (which means each plot was roughly double the size of the current “full” plot in 2022). These were rented out to 35 poor parishioners, resulting in an income to the charity of £18 16s 0d. The charity’s funds made up the difference, as well as providing the coal, food and bedding for the poor of the parish. Gates, fencing and roads were laid out on the land by the Trustees, and the following year the charity also provide manure for the poor tenants, as the land they had rented was not in a very fertile condition.

In an article in the Alveston Village Despatch in Sept 2019 we are told something of the rules surrounding these allotments:

A copt of the original regulations that plot holders had to agree to and sign with the Trustees of Mrs Jenkinson's charity

However, anyone wishing to rent an allotment had to sign up to a stringent set of rules. Tenants had to use a rotation system – growing potatoes, corn or other vegetables. Rather ominously the rules stated that “”Each Tenant shall apply all the manure of his cottage yearly to part of the plot held by him”. No tenant could work on a Sunday and expulsion would follow any dishonesty, drunkenness, frequenting of public-houses or any other immoral habits.

In 1890, endowment charity received some attention in Parliament when a question was asked about its administration. It appears that by this date the trustees, which included the local vicar, rented the nine acres of “glebe land” for £3 per acre. In those days “glebe” was land within an ecclesiastical parish that was used to support the parish priest, usually by providing him with an income from the rents or leases. So in this case the vicar had something of a conflict of interest, as he was both the trustee of the charity renting the allotment site and also the beneficiary of the income. Not only that, but the allotment holders paid £3 10s 0d per acre for the allotments, so the charity was making 10s per acre per year on the cost of the allotments to their plot holders. To make matters even worse, other local allotments were charging their plot holders between 30 and 35 shillings per acre – less than half the rate in Alveston. As a result the Charity Commissioners were involved, and eight trustees were appointed as part of a new Scheme of the Charity Commissioners from 9th June 1891 to oversee the charitable endowment.

By 1945 this endowment produced an annual income of £28 16s 4d, and by then it was mostly distributed to the local poor in the form of coal. The charity for this endowment continued until 2010, though by this time its connection with the allotments was lost.

The glebe land on which the allotments sit ceased to belong to the individual incumbent vicar from 1st April 1978, as a result of the introduction of Endowments and Glebe Measure of 1976. After this point glebe land came under the control of the Church Diocese, and plot holders rented their allotment plots from an agent appointed by the Diocese.

On 16th July 2007 the National Lottery donated £2100 to the Alveston and Tiddington Allotment & Garden Association under their “Awards for All” scheme. This money was used to buy the first of our shop shipping containers, which replaced a set of wooden huts that had burnt down a year or so before.

In 2011 the Alveston and Tiddington Allotment and Garden Association took on the lease of the whole allotment site from the Church via a set of trustees. The association now manages the rental of individual plots and management of the site, although the land is still owned by the Diocese. As plots became available the Association split them in half, thereby more than doubling the number of plot holders within the following ten years.

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