Can I graze my sheep on the heath?

Marrow with feta and mint
A friend of mine really likes feta cheese. He lives in Blackheath. As a way of reducing costs in this age of austerity, someone suggested that a way to beat the supermarkets at their own game would be to buy a sheep, graze it on the heath every day, and return it to the back garden in the evening.

Is this possible? I had no idea, so I fired off an email to both Lewisham and Greenwich councils. Lewisham council got back to me very quickly, saying that it definitely isn’t legal. Here are the relevant bits of legislation, if you’re interested:

Metropolitan Commons Act 1866
Metropolitan Commons Supplemented act 1871 [Ch Ivii]

6. “except for those persons who now by law are entitled to do so, it shall not be lawful, without the consent of the board in writing, to turn out on the heath for grazing any cattle, sheep, or other animal”.

Existing bye laws London County Council 1932

25. No person shall turn out to graze or feed or allow or suffer to stray or remain any cattle, sheep, swine, horse, ass, mule, goose, duck, fowl, or other animal in any open space without right or without the consent of the council in writing under the hand of its Clerk.

Interestingly an additional bye-law on this subject is currently being drafted between Lewisham and Greenwich councils, with the Blackheath Joint Working Party, which includes the following clause:

Draft Byelaws
London Borough of Lewisham
Blackheath Open Space, London SE13

13. No persons shall without the consent of the council turn out or permit any animal for which he is responsible to graze in the ground.

Which is pretty specific, although I note with interest that no consideration is given to scavenging home-made robots. Which may have to be left for a post another day.

The photo (including feta) above shows a recipe for feta and stuffed marrow, from the wonderful Smallest Kitchen blog. The marrows are from the farmer’s market, and it is highly recommended.

6 Comments

Filed under blackheath, food, history

6 responses to “Can I graze my sheep on the heath?

  1. yes you can, but only if I can have the fleece!

  2. Michele O'Brien

    Schafe können sicher weiden …

    In Germany, perhaps.
    But not on Blackheath they don’t, Mr. Bach, OK?

  3. Jim

    Freemen of the city of london can take sheep across london bridge …

  4. Hello All:

    I always read this excellent blog with great interest, but I can’t believe that one thing has gone without comment on these pages. I went into the village last night for a pint only to find that my regular watering hole The Crown was a building site. It looks very much as if they have ripped out the lovely bay windows (with the two big leather seats) and are replacing them with a flat wall and french doors. How can they be allowed to change the face of such an old and surely protected building so much!?
    Yours,
    Shocked of Charlton on the 380 bus route

  5. Pingback: What’s going on with The Crown Pub rebuild? | The Blackheath Bugle

  6. it has been suggested – apparently quite seriously – that sheep could be introduced (or probably re-introduced) to Hampstead Heath. This would mean, among other things, that local craftspeople (i.e. me) would have local wool to spin. And, of course, we could have sheeps’ milk and cheese, but for me the wool would be the most important.

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