Conservation and Environment
The Wraysbury Eight Yards Wraysbury Archives

Before 1800 much of the land in Wraysbury was common land and waste ground. The Lord of the Manor of Wraysbury in 1799 presented a bill to Parliament which would divide this land (and other land in Wraysbury) into separate enclosures and award these enclosures to certain individuals who would then own the freehold.

A number of villagers objected to the bill and presented the Lord of the Manor with a petition. To ensure the smooth passage of the bill he subsequently agreed to insert a clause which awarded the eight yards either side of the River Colne in perpetuity for the use of the inhabitants of Wraysbury. When each of the enclosures was divided the boundaries all ended eight yards from the river.






1799 Inclosure Act

1803 Inclosure Award

1803 Inclosure Map

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The common rights which the inhabitants had enjoyed were therefore exchanged for the right to walk along an eight yard strip of land which bordered the river Colne, to cut withies from the stream and throw mud from it upon the bank. The right to hold an annual fair at Whitsuntide1 and the land on which it should be held was also ensured.

On the 17th June 1803 the Wraysbury Inclosure2 Award was granted with the following to say about the 8 yards:

" AND FURTHER KNOW YE  that they the said James Taylor Richard Davis and Thomas Wyatt the Commissioners as aforesaid in pursuance and further performance of the Directions of the said Act before setting out and making the several Allotments of the said Commons and Waste Grounds by the said Act directed to be made HAVE set out appointed and awarded and by these presents DO set out appoint and award unto and for all and every the inhabitants of the said parish of Wyrardisbury otherwise Wraisbury for the time being ALL those Spaces Pieces or Parcels of Land or Ground part and parcel of the Lands and Grounds by the said Act intended and directed to be divided allotted and inclosed being of the breadth of eight yards on each side of the River Colne or Mill River as the same is marked and distinguished by dotted Lines on the said plan hereunto annexed and which said space of eight yards on each side of the said Colne or Mill River is so set out by the said Commissioners for the purpose of being used for ever by the Inhabitants of the said Parish for throwing mud cutting weeds out of the said River and for such other uses and purposes as may be necessary for their accommodation and to the same Extent and in such manner no they enjoyed the same at the time of the passing of the said Act."


Lord Denning Master of the Rolls 1962 - 1982

(page 9, para 1 certified copy  24 Feb 1944)
Lord Dennings's ruling on the Wraysbury award, May 1962

"I know of no way in which the inhabitants of a parish can loose a right of this kind once they have acquired it except by an Act of Parliament, mere disuse will not do and I do not see how they can waive it or abandon it, no one or more of the inhabitants can waive or abandon it on behalf of the others, nor can all the present inhabitants waive or abandon it on behalf of future generations they have no common seal and cannot do any corporate of waiving"