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The Knoll and Village Green

The Knoll is the name of the grass area at the junction of Church Road and the High Street opposite Water Lane.

It would seem that the problem with travellers who live in caravans is not a phenomenon of the 1990's as nearly a hundred years ago, in January 1896, Councillors Harding and Hickson were appointed to "look after village greens to prevent all caravans being placed on there"

It is assumed that The Knoll was the, or one of the areas, meant in the above minute. As it is more specific it is believed that The Knoll was the place referred to when mentioned in the minutes of 2nd June 1896. Then it was decided that "a letter be written to Mr H G Base, builder, asking him to remove a large heap of soil from off the village green on or before 9th June 1896 (viz. 7 days)".

The Knoll is first mentioned by name in 1908 when the minutes read "A letter was read from Buckinghamshire County Council with regard to a corrugated iron fence recently erected by Mr W Cole at The Knoll in the centre of the village of Sherington." It is a pity that the whole of the letter was not recorded. However, "After discussion" it was unanimously adopted that the following reply was to be sent. "That the Parish Council of Sherington are unanimous of the opinion that the corrugated iron fence recently erected by Mr Cole is an encroachment and should be removed".

Matters evidently moved slowly and strangely in 1907/8 for it was not until another five months that the Council met again. They were then read a letter received from Newport Pagnell Rural District Council. This time they decided "after discussion" to reply "That the Parish Council are of the opinion that a little encroachment exists; that two members of this Council, Mr Hickson and Mr Petts, meet the committee of the Rural District Council upon their visit to Sherington to inspect the same". It would seem that some back pedalling on the previous stance was felt necessary.

Why the County Council and the RDC should be involved with a village green was not clear. However light may be shed on this by the entry in the minutes of September 1931 when the Council were aggrieved that the County had given permission for the Electricity Company, then installing electricity in the village, to place a transformer on the Knoll. The County replied that they did not know that the Knoll belonged to the Parish!

In April 1914 the committee set up to organise celebrations for the Coronation of George V bought the cottage which fronted the High Street and backed onto the Knoll which belonged to Mr F James for 25. The committee passed this, free of charge, to the Parish Council on the understanding that the Council would demolish the cottage and fence the adjoining garden. Unfortunately the deeds of the cottage land were lost sometime before March 1936 when the Clerk had to report this to the Council.

It would appear that everybody thought that they could place something on the Knoll. The County had given permission in the past; the telephone box was there and in February 1938 the Northampton Gas Co. Ltd applied for permission to place a transformer chamber on it! The condition of the Knoll was however safeguarded for in August 1939 C J Haynes was instructed to restore it after the building activities at the garage had been completed.

One of the 'parish pumps' was located on The Knoll and in March 1947, during a hard winter, the Rural District Council were requested to protect it from frost. The other pump in Crofts End is hard against a cottage wall and less exposed than the one on The Knoll. In April 1948 the Council noted 'numerous complaints about the pump on The Knoll being out of order'. At the meeting previous to this the Council had to deal with 'complaints about lorries on The Knoll damaging the grass and stopping the use of the pump.

The service to the pumps was cut off at some time between April 1948 and August 1952 for on the latter date the Council were urged to contact the RDC to see if the two village pumps could be reinstated as the mains water supply to the village had been cut off for a number of days.

In March 1953 "attention is drawn to the fact that The Knoll is getting smaller due to lorries parking on the edge". Kerbing was requested from Bucks County Council. The County agreed to do the work 'in due course', but never got round to it. Indeed correspondence indicated that the County considered such a problem as common all over its area on verges and waste ground and that additional granite setts might be useful. The problem continued however and two years later a 'No Parking' sign was requested.

March 1963 saw quite a flurry of activity over The Knoll. The Council had for some time been "gravely concerned about the continued mis-use for parking etc. What was once a pleasant green is rapidly becoming a muddy patch". The Council asked the County for suggestions as how to stop this defilement. The County did not reply but the RDC, in July 1963, advised the Council that planning permission had been requested for the erection of 3 garages adjacent to 6 The Knoll and asked if the Parish Council claimed ownership and if they allowed vehicular access across The Knoll. This, of course, brought the matter to a head and the Parish Council advised the RDC that they did claim ownership and did not allow vehicular access across it.

It was felt that to exercise this right of ownership public notices to this effect had to be posted. This was done actually on The Knoll and in the pages of the Bucks Standard. The result was that:

Taking these claims into account the Council decided to fence that part of The Knoll leaving a 10' carriageway. The remaining area, bounded by the High Street and Church Road was not fenced and problems with private cars and commercial vehicles being parked on it and damaging the edges continued to exercise the Council for some while. In February 1965 plans for entirely fencing The Knoll were received, but rejected as it was set too far from the edge. By August of that year however the plans were passed and in November it was agreed that The Knoll should be fenced with 'No 28 galvanised chain between 6" x 6" oak posts with 8" x 8" corners' at a cost of 82.04.00

The cottages (no 3 - 7) along the back of The Knoll were condemned as unfit for human habitation by the RDC in September 1966 and the Council was told that if they were not repaired the RDC would purchase them to provide old persons dwellings. These cottages were owned by Mr. R H Smith who wrote to the Council asking if it would sell some land for a service road to the cottages if they were repaired. The Council said that they wanted to see plans before commenting. This matter staggered along, like so many, to September 1967 when the RDC said that they could not gain access across the land as the owner had put in plans for four houses himself, with a road access across the Knoll. The Council was advised that if there was no access road there would be no consent and they had no longer any interest in the cottages as they were going to build o.a.p bungalows in Hill View. In December 1968 the Brackley Design Partnership (for R A Smith) submitted plans for 2-6 The Knoll (evidently the cottages having been renumbered). The Council agreed not to oppose the plans as some area was to be given to the Council.

During all the above The County had been advised that the pump on The Knoll was an Ancient Monument and that the land was to be designated a 'village green'. In fact it was eventually registered in May 1968 under the Commons Registration Act.

Now that the fencing had been sorted out the Council wanted the Knoll mowed and it asked the RDC to do this every fortnight from 1st April to 30th September. However for some reason both the RDC and Bucks CC managed to do the mowing and both, in January 1967, demanded payment!!. The Council decided to ask if anyone in the village would be willing to mow it on their behalf. The Council eventually, in March 1969, ordered a mower which arrived by the next meeting in May at a cost of 85. This lasted until January 1973 when another was purchased, followed by other since then.


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Latest Revision: 31 December 2006