The origin of the Finmere 'Poor's Plot' dates prior to the 'Enclosure Act' of 1667.
At the time a parcel of 'scrub' land of approximately 12 acres was set aside for rent by annual auction, the proceeds of which were allocated to the needs of the poor of the village. In or about 1826, the Duke of Buckingham leased the land and re-let in the form of allotments to the poor of the village, such that they could grow vegetables.
The land in question was not particularly fertile and after a period of mixed fortune and abuse, much of it fell into disuse.
'The rents from the poor's plot began to fall in arrears and the occupiers to be disorderly, exchanging their chains amongst themselves without any reference to their superior and even to assert their right to hold and cultivate as land belonging to themselves (as Poor) who they paid no rent.
(William Jocelyn Palmer writing in the Rector's book) .....extract from 'The Millenium History of Finmere''
In or about 1834, the Rector Palmer took it upon himself to pay the rent (in advance every Easter), with the proceeds continuing to benefit the poor of the village.
In more recent years various discussions have taken place (1970's) concerning the future of the plot, with trustees considering the sale of the plot. However for a multitude of reasons, this has not taken place and the current management of the poor's plot have no intention to persue such a course of action.
A more complete history of the Poor's Plot may be viewed here.
The original plot is currently rented by a local farmer, who is in turn, good enough to allocate a section of another field closer to the village and more suited to allotment use, for use by villagers for allotment purposes.
This allotment area is currently sub-divided into 24 individual plots and is used by local and district residents for the purpose of growing vegetables.
Administration of the Poor's Plot, including management of the rental proceeds is currently undertaken by a small group of village volunteers. Income is allocated towards 'needy' village projects and when necessary, assistance to help alleviate individual cases of need or hardship within the village.
Allotments continue to be available for rent at a nominal fee of £20 per annum and any villager or district resident who is interetsed in renting one of the allotments may enquire here
Select here for an overview of the plots available
Visit the Finmere Allotments facebook page here
(Pictures - Finmere deed of enclosure 1667, on loan to and held in the Oxfordshire History Archives)