Saturday, 5 April 2014

Lea or Lee?

1. "Lea" or "Lee"?
The River LEA flows through the LEA Valley.
The spelling "Lee" was first used by Parliament in the 16th century, when it was proposed to improve navigability of the river, and by convention "Lee" is now the preferred spelling when referring to man-made interference or "development" in the Lea Valley area.

The naming of the Regional Park in 1967 used the "Lee" spelling. It is incorrect, but that is how the LVRPA's name is spelt.

The River, Valley and Marshes are always and only spelt "Lea" (although the Lea Navigation, where the waterway is a man-made channel rather than the improved river, can be spelt either way).

Hope that's clear!!

2. Leyton Lammas Lands.
ALL of Leyton, Walthamstow and Hackney Marshes - and some other land as well, like Hackney Downs and London Fields, was Lammas Land, i.e. subject to a regime of half year rotational haymaking and common grazing. 

Lammas Day (1st August) was the start of the grazing season, hence the name.
ALL of Leyton Marshes were dislammased in 1905 under an Act of Parliament 
whictransformed the 
governance of Leyton from a rural Parish into an "Urban District Council". Such Acts were usually known as "Corporation Acts".

The 1904 UDC Act "commuted" (i.e. exchanged) the right of grazing for the right of free public access in perpetuity, in accordance with public request, since there was little grazing going on by then (although the northern part was still used for informal grazing of goats and horses until about 1911).

Walthamstow Marshes were officially dislammased by Parliament in 1935 with out objection, but in fact remained as grazing land up to the 1950s and possibly later.

When the Regional Park was set up in 1967 its boundary was unaccountably drawn through rather than around Leyton Marshes, severing Marsh Lane Fields.

The part of Leyton Marshes within the boundary, now owned by the LVRPA, was compulsorily purchased in 1971, thereby automatically negating the covenant enshrining the commuted Lammas Rights.

Local people unaware of the law on CPO have refused to accept this, some even wrongly accusing the Lammas Lands Defence Committee of having "sold" the right of free access in perpetuity, which it was never in their powers to do anyway.

Marsh Lane Fields remain outside the Regional Park's boundary and are vested in the Council on behalf of the parishioners of Leyton.

They are not a "park", but remain (under the Corporation Act's covenant) as unenclosed marshland.

I hope this clarifies those issues.
Katy Andrews.

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