Lord Brownlow’s decision to enclose the common and appropriate it for his own use was the trigger for the Battle. In the dead of night on 6 March 1866, a specially commissioned train brought carriages of East End hard men and labourers to Tring.
By moonlight, they joined locals to tear down the five-foot iron fences that Lord Brownlow’s agents had erected around the common. The fences were never put up again and Berkhamsted Common was reclaimed by the villagers.
This battle was a historic victory for ordinary people and saved this wonderful open space from being enclosed and absorbed into a wealthy landowner's private estate.
The story of the common from ancient times to the present day is told in the exhibition at Ashridge Estate. It focusses on the traditional uses of common land by local people in the 19th century and tells the story of the sickly young Lord Brownlow and his domineering mother, Lady Marian Alford.
On the actual anniversary we had a commemorative walk around the perimeter of the section of common that Lord Brownlow attempted to enclose in 1866. Leaflets of the 6k and 3.5k routes can be picked up from the visitor centre or downloaded here.