Did your ancestors have green fingers?

I spent this morning working in my garden and while I was out there, my mind wandered and I began to think about allotments. For the uninitiated, an allotment is an area of land which is subdivided into smaller sections which are then rented out to members of the public to use to grow fruit and vegetables, or even keep a few chickens. Most allotments are owned by the local council, but some are in private hands.

Now you may be wondering what all this has to do with genealogy. Well, the provision of allotments goes back a very long way. In their present form they date from the 19th century when land was set aside in towns and cities for the use of working class people who lived in back to back housing with no gardens. They could rent an allotment and use it to grow fresh food to supplement what was probably quite a basic diet. However, the roots (no pun intended) of allotments go back to the days of common land. You can read more about the history here.

I wasn’t sure if any records of allotment holders would exist, but a quick search of the National Archives for the term ‘allotment holders‘ has revealed that, in some cases, they do. Glancing at the results they do seem to be mostly for the early to mid 20th century, but even so, they may help to fill in some gaps in your knowledge of the more recent generations of your family and provide some interesting background information.


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