Under the feudal system introduced by the Normans after 1066, land in this country was held under the Crown by Lords of the Manor. These feudal landlords used the land in various ways, but large tracts were left unenclosed for common use by the peasants. The centre of the Woodchurch settlement, held by the Lord of the Manor of Aldington, was just such a “common” and extended right down to the Stonebridge. The so-called Lower Green to the south was enclosed by squatters in the 18th century: an attempt to evict them through the legal system was abandoned in favour of allowing them to buy the land, and an early 19th century attempt to squat on another area was frustrated by the local squire’s intervention. The six-acre site left, which we now know as The Village Green, was properly protected as a common in the middle of the 19th century, when it fell under the aegis of the Charity Commissioners.
The present Village Green Trust – a registered charity – was set up in 1925. The scheme names the Parish Council as Trustees and states that that the land “shall be used as a Village Green Recreation Ground or open space for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Parish of Woodchurch.”
Although a venue for goal-running, cricket, football, fairs, circuses and the like, The Green was until relatively recently also used for grazing. The first bye-laws stated that large animals could be turned out for 1/- (5p) per head: better value were sheep and goats at 1/6 per score. Special arrangements could be made for animals overnighting on their way to market. There is no mention of grazing animals in the updated bye-laws of the 1990s: however, hot air balloons can only land by arrangement or in emergency, and transistor radios should not annoy other users of The Green!