This article originally appeared in The Lee Newsletter in March 2023
Of late I have become increasingly exercised about the names used for local pieces of land; not only are different names used to describe the same piece of land in the village but, even more confusingly, sometimes I hear the same name used to describe different pieces of land. To the best of my knowledge – and yes, I have consulted residents of longer standing than me – the definitive answers are as follows.
Many people think of a common as being open land where commoners (non landowners) could historically graze their livestock. Open land in London such as Wandsworth or Wimbledon Commons are still in use as public areas today, although any such grazing rights are long gone.
Lee Common by contrast is no longer open land, but is the land on which the Parish Hall, shop, tennis court and scout hut are now located, along with Firgrove Cottages. It may not be open land, but is still very much available for public use.
These days, the term Lee Common is generally used to mean the area around Oxford Street. There is also Lee Posh, but that’s another story.
The Park – or to give it it’s full name, The Lee Manor Park – is the parkland formerly a part of The Lee Manor. It mostly comprises the large pasture area behind the school, which stretches from opposite Manor Cottages on Lee Clump Road, behind Oxford Street and Cherry Tree Lane, and along to Field End.
Additionally, The Lee Cricket Club occupies an area of The Lee Manor Park as, more recently, does Lee Common School’s outdoor forest school.
Lee Common Allotments and Playing Fields
This area, sited between Oxford St and Cherry Tree Lane, is home to the allotments, playground, football pitch and a small tree plantation. As you will have read by now, it is neither the park nor the common!
The grassed area in front of the Cock and Rabbit doesn’t have a name recognised on maps, by Royal Mail or elsewhere, but locally it is known informally and descriptively as the green or more properly as The Lee Green, often abbreviated to The Green.
Indeed, if you search online for The Lee Green you will only find references to Lee Green in London which straddles the border of the boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich. The Green is a public green space, privately owned.
So, to summarise: the field behind the school isn’t the common, it’s the park; the playground isn’t the park, it’s part of the not very catchily named Lee Common Allotments and Playing Fields; the area housing the Hall, etc. is the common and the grassed space in front of the Cock and Rabbit may descriptively be called the green but correctly should be The Lee Green. Any clearer?
Oh, and Lee Posh – that’s the area close to The Green.