Stoke Common, Stoke Poges

Nominated by: Geoff Cox

Stoke Common in the South of Buckinghamshire is over 80 hectares of land for public recreation. It is the largest remnant of Buckinghamshire’s once extensive heathland.  It has an open aspect and wilderness feel, ideal for quiet walks and horse riding.

In the early 19th century the Common was over 480 acres but then it was enclosed. Plots of land were allocated to residents in the Parish as a ‘poor fuel allotment’ in lieu of common rights.  In 1993 the Parish Council sold the Common to the District Council who managed it until 2007 when management and ownership transferred to the City of London, who already had ownership of the nearby Burnham Beeches. Nowadays the City of London has the resources and skills to effectively and efficiently manage to Common. They have been working hard to restore the common to its former glory, supported by a volunteer group: ‘Friends of Stoke Common’.

In 1972 it was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.  It is an important site for wildlife and provides recreational value to local residents. Twenty-six of the plant species recorded at Stoke Common are considered to be rare or scarce on at least a Buckinghamshire County basis.  A recent analysis by the local Environmental Records Centre of the number of County Rare and County Scarce plants recorded revealed that Stoke Common has more of these plants than any other site in Buckinghamshire.

Over the centuries Stoke Common has been threatened by development.  As early as 1846 there were plans to build a railway through it (London & Oxford Railway Bill).  In 1905, Great Western Railway had plans for a line from Uxbridge to Burnham Beeches.  Berkshire County Council in the 1974 caused huge concern with plans for the Boundary Commission to consider the takeover of the whole of the Parish and there was much speculation there on of developments, even talk of a new town!  Despite all the pressures from those organisations not even in Buckinghamshire, Stoke Common has pretty much remained unaltered for generations.

The City of London recently completed a second ten-year management plan for the site. Having already carried out a considerable amount of heathland restoration work, the new ten-year plan consolidates the progress already made, helping to maintain the site as an important nature reserve and open space for people and wildlife.

Stoke Common was nominated by Geoff Cox