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Leyton Marshes are located in the London Borough of Waltham Forest at Leyton.

Horse grazing in open land near Marsh Lane
Playgrounds near the Seymour Road entrance



The marshes are bordered by the Walthamstow Marshes, River Lee Navigation, River Lee Flood Relief Channel and Hackney Marshes. Much of the original area has been taken over for other uses. The remaining open land is split into two distinct areas:

  • Leyton Marsh, to the west of Lea Bridge Road, adjoins the Walthamstow Marshes Nature Reserve.
  • The Marsh Lane area, officially named Seymour Road Playing Field and Marsh Lane Playing Field, west and east of Marsh Lane respectively. Now cut off from the rest of the marshes, connected only by a long pedestrian bridge over the railway. Access from Lea Bridge Road is at the end of Seymour Road.

Other areas which were historically part of Leyton Marshes are now variously enclosed and put to other uses:

  • Lea Valley Ice Centre
  • Lea Valley Riding Centre
  • Waterworks Nature Reserve
  • Lea Valley Pitch and Putt Golf Course

Lammas Lane, despite historic associations, is buried in an industrial estate alongside the railway. [1]


Originally more extensive open marsh, historically drained by means of open drainage ditches. The marsh is former Lammas Land: the land was divided into strips which were cultivated to grow hay for winter feed. Parishioners had ancient rights to graze cattle and horses between 1 August (after the hay harvest) and 25 March. [2] [3].

In the 19th century the marsh was polluted by sewage from the extensive new residential developments in Walthamstow and Leyton.

By the 19th century the character of the marshes changed. Many acres were bought and built on by railway, water and gas companies. In the early 1890s the East London Waterworks Company erected fences illegally which angered local people. On Lammas Day 1892 a large demonstration took place on the marsh and the fences were taken down. The locals set up the Leyton Lammas Lands Defence Committee and successfully challenged the water company in court. This led to the Leyton Urban District Council Act of 1904 that the marshes would be kept as an open space, in return for local people giving up Lammas rights.[2] The fields at Marsh Lane did not come under this agreement and remain as Lammas land.[4]

After World War II the marsh was used to dump rubble from the The Blitz.

In 1971 the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) acquired much of the land by compulsory purchase. They acquired the Essex filter beds (1986, now the Waterworks Nature Reserve=) and the Middlesex filter beds (1988, now the Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve), both on the south side of Lea Bridge Road and formerly part of the marsh. Much of the marsh is given over to football pitches and a fairground site. The Lee Valley Ice Centre and the Lee Valley Riding Centre have been built in recent years.

Recent history

The New Lammas Lands Defence Committee, a revival of the organisation, is currently active promoting and on occasion defending the public use of the marsh. Events include organised walks, and an annual highlight: beating the bounds on 13 March, an ancient ritual which defines the boundaries of the land where grazing rights were enjoyed.

The area adjoins the 2012 Olympic Games site[5] and some of the concerns about the extensive redevelopment apply here. The Manor Garden Allotments on Hackney Marshes are likely to be relocated to Marsh Lane, on the edge of the Leyton Marsh, despite having a thin layer of heavily polluted soil covering WW2 rubble. Coordinates: 51°33′57″N 0°02′44″W / 51.565920°N -0.045619°E / 51.565920; -0.045619


  1. ^ [1] Google map]
  2. ^ a b British History online (fn.194 & fn.55) Retrieved December 12, 2007
  3. ^ New Lammas Lands Defence Committee Retrieved December 12, 2007
  4. ^ Lammas lands Retrieved March 18, 2008
  5. ^ Games Monitor website

External links



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