F U L H A M P A L A C E M E A D O W S A L L O T M E N T A S S O C I A T I O N
H E R I T A G E
Fulham Palace Meadows Allotments originated as a gift from the Bishop of London in 1916, the owners of Fulham Palace from 701 AD to 1973. There is evidence of human settlement here for some 2,000 years, with a Roman settlement on the Meadow between AD43 and 410, after which the land was used by Saxon farmers. Due to the historical importance of the site allotment-holders are not permitted to dig below a certain depth, and growing of trees is restricted. The name Fulanharn or Fulanham is first recorded in the C7th and in 701 when the Manor of Fulham was granted to the 5th Bishop of London, Bishop Waldhere, there was a church on the site of the current church of All Saints.
In the winter of 879 Viking raiders camped on the Meadow following their defeat in battle by King Alfred. They had demolished London Bridge, the only bridge over the Thames at that time, before rowing up the Thames to Fulham and while here they dug the Moat. Fulham Palace, which is reputed to be the largest moated site in Europe, was built between 1500-20 by Bishop Richard Fitzjames, one of the earliest brick buildings in England. Henry Compton who was Bishop from 1675-1713 was a keen gardener and arranged for rare plants to be shipped back to him from the colonies of Anglican settlers he was responsible for in North America. Before the late C19th when housing development in Fulham built over much of the area it was known for its nursery gardens, particularly for specimen plants and trees, and by the mid-C19th market gardens, orchards, nurseries and grazing covered the area. Due to the historical importance of the site allotment-holders are not permitted to dig below a certain depth.
From the C8th onwards the Meadow was used as grazing land for the Bishop's animals until 1916, when the land was granted by Bishop Winnington-Ingram to the people of Fulham as part of an early 'Dig for Victory' campaign during WWI. After the War, the allotment-holders petitioned the Bishop for continued use of the land and he agreed, subject to a rent increase from 5 to 10 shillings, although in 1960 it went down to 5 shillings again. The Fulham Palace Meadows Allotment Association (FPMAA) was set up to administer the allotments, the incumbent Bishop becoming President until 1972. In 1973 the last Bishop occupied the Palace, which became a Museum run by the Council.
There are now 406 plots run by Fulham Palace Meadows Allotment Association, on average 5 rods in size (30m x 8m), half the national size of allotments but Bishop Winnington made the decision in order to give more people the chance of a plot. In 1951 2 acres of the Meadow were sold by the Church Commissioners when St Mark's School was built but in 1958 the freehold of the allotments was sold to LB Hammersmith & Fulham. In 1953 one of the allotment-holders was permitted to have a bee-hive on his plot, and others followed, but this has since been prohibited. The first female plot holder arrived in 1970, hitherto permitted tenants were male although from 20 February 1955 only married men or widowers could take a plot. It was Highly Commended in the 2006 Daily Mail National Garden Competition.
We were pleased to partake in Open Garden Squares Weekend (17 June 2017) where we offered Plot Holder led tours of the site, Teas and Light Refreshments and a selection of Plants and Produce were on sale.