19. Tod’s Piece

Tod’s Piece

Tod’s Piece is a much loved and treasured amenity providing a welcome open space in the centre of town. This area of recreation ground and allotments beside North Street East commemorate a man called Tod, a mighty mower with the scythe. For a wager he undertook to mow in one day the grass in this field measuring 7 acres, 2 roods and 16 perches. The feat was considered impossible for a single man, but labouring from dawn to sunset he achieved it, won his wager and then dropped dead of exhaustion. Nothing more is known about Tod the mower not even when he performed this feat. In the 1630s a John Todd, Church Warden, signed the parish registers so we should look there as a possible date for the wager.

In January 1748 the Parish Vestry first rented Tod’s Piece, as it was known even then, from the Lord of the Manor, Gerard Noel (later Lord Gainsborough) at 1d per year for the use of the inhabitants of the town. Very likely it gave a legal footing to an already long established use. Perhaps it was here that the archery butts stood, where in Tudor times the men of the town were required to practice their skill on Sunday afternoons. When in 1752 the field was enclosed by private treaty, the £60 paid by Lord Gainsborough went to William Warren as repayment of part of the money lent by him to the town of Uppingham for building the old workhouse situated by the traffic lights at the corner of Orange Lane and North Street East. In the 18th century there is record of a bowling green on this site.

In April 1903 the Parish Council took a new 21 year lease from Lord Gainsborough paying £30 per annum rent for 7.359 acres. In December 1928 they raised £1,100 mortgage to purchase the land – £500 for the recreation ground and £550 for the allotments. Here in summer a hundred years ago there was held Uppingham’s Annual Cycling and Athletic Sports Day with races for all ages, music by the town band and the ever popular catching the greasy pig event – open only to ladies!

Also around this time the young men of Uppingham applied to the Parish Council to use Tod’s Piece for cricket and football. The document – held in the Council’s safe – contains some 60 signatures. Permission was granted and football is played on the ground to this day though the town cricket club has moved to a purpose built site on the western edge of town. In 1966 part was leased to the Uppingham Sports Club for tennis courts. The Club became inactive in 2002 and in 2016 the tarmac was removed to make way for the new Skate Park built by Uppingham Town Council.

In 1996 the eastern part of the allotments was sold to a housing developer for affordable housing and the money raised was used to fund the children’s play area.

The Bowls Club hut is a relic of the prisoner of war camp that once stood on the site of the Community College. In the 1914 War, 60 Germans were held there and they would walk to the Post Office to collect black bread sent to them from Germany through neutral sources.

Today, Uppingham Town Football Club have their clubhouse on site and the Scout Hut can be found on the northern edge.

In 2017 Uppingham Town Council built a public WC on site and have plans to improve the children’s play area, footpaths and lighting.

Market Place

Falcon Hotel

Norton's Plough

The Post Office

Parish Church

Grammar School

Beast Hill

Railway Station

Fossil Wall

Congregational Chapel

The Town Hall

High Street East

Public Houses

Uppingham School

Shields Yard

Leamington Terrace

Orange Street

Methodist Church

Tod's Piece

Hopes Yard