The Road to Little London - The Home of the Welsh Drovers
One of the first to be created was probably on Hillingdon Heath, which was close to London, on common land on a major route into the Capital, with nearby grazing and an adequate water supply. The 1786 map shows an avenue of trees approaching the settlement from the west, for it is apparent that the Welsh drovers planted thousands of trees as sign-posts to guide them on their travels. And so it was that they had created their own "London", some fifteen miles from the Capital , a distance which they could easily cover in a day. The first Little London was no doubt located in the Capital. There have been over one hundred recorded sites of Little London in England, with four in Wales. One of the earliest recorded sites is the one near Oakley in Buckinghamshire. The land in 1590 had been given to Sir John Williams (Baron of Thame), who was of Welsh descent, and a large holder of live-stock, but the title was in dispute so he ordered Erasmus Williams, a Fellow of New College Oxford to draw up a plan of the parishes to prove his title. As in all cases the site was set up away from the local community, and is shown on the map as a small collection of dwellings, but was not regarded as an "habitable" place and part of the parish.
From the History of the County of Sussex volume 3 (1935) in Chichester Sussex; which was a "merchants" town, there is a reference to a "Litillondon" in 1483 sited within the boundary walls of the City.
map of 1591 by Erasmus Williams From the Dictionary of London by Henry Harben (1918), there is a reference in 1388 and 1434. "Tenement of Robert Cok with houses and gardens in the parish of All Hallows ^atte wall^ called Little London situate near a tenement belonging to the work of London Bridge, extending from the highway near London Wall north as far as the ditch of Walbrok south". The National Archives have a reference to a Little London in Kent circa 1270 which may be the site at Lydden. As early as 1312 some 700 cattle from North Wales were sent to Windsor for use in the King's House-hold. Indeed the court, as well as many castles and abbeys, was being supplied with meat from Wales.
In 1253 the abbot of Cormeilles in Normandy obtained leave to establish a yearly fair and a market on a Tuesday every week in his Gloucestershire manor of Newent. There were objections from existing markets at Gloucester and Newham-on-Severn, but a special jury rebutted these allegations "the Welshman who come to sell their cattle arrive at Ross-on-Wye on Thursday. They cannot then reach Gloucester in a day from Ross, so on Friday they lodge
at Newent, which is more than eight leagues distant from Gloucester. They continue their journey next morning, and when they have transacted their business in the Saturday market at Gloucester, they no longer push on further into England, as they used to...."
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