Owned by Marlborough Town Council, Marlborough Common was given to the borough by King John (reigned 1196 to 1216) as pasture for livestock.
The Common is used for sport and recreation and is a popular spot for dog walking. There is a trim trail for children as well as organised sport - Marlborough Rugby Football Club is based here and Marlborough Youth Football Club plays on the football pitch which is also available for private hire. Marlborough Golf Club covers part of The Common and in 2018 six new tennis courts opened too. Members of Marlborough Model Flying Club are regular users as well.
The Common is a popular venue for circuses and fairs as well as other public and community events, having played host to car boot sales, a daredevil stunt show, a civil war re-enactment, food and drink festivals and more.
Charities may hire The Common at a preferential rate, and it is also available to commercial hirers. For fees, click here. There's a £500 bond required against possible reinstatement. If you'd like to discuss holding an event here please contact us.
Marlborough Common is bordered by Port Hill to the east, a road called The Common to the south and is bisected on the western edge by Frees Avenue. Click here for map
For satnav users the postcode for the Golf Club (east) is SN8 1DU and the Rugby Club (west) is SN8 1DL. Grid reference SU187695
Marlborough's Cemeteries (one is a closed cemetery) are to the west of The Common, accessed from Frees Avenue
The Common is available for everyone to enjoy. Please use the litter bins provided and pick up after your dog.
The primary amenity is open space - about 10 acres.
There are a couple of swings and a bench in the south-west corner and benches also on the bank overlooking Port Hill.
Football pitch available for private hire.
While The Common is mainly grass, there is a footpath along the western edge, leading past the Diamond Jubilee Plantation, behind the Rugby Club and the trim trail as far as the Cemetery.
A rough track starts at the entrance gate at the top of Kingsbury Street and runs a short distance towards the rugby pitches.
Steps lead up onto the Common from Port Hill.
No vehicles are allowed on The Common except under certain circumstances. Some parking is offered to the public by Marlborough Rugby Football Club in the clubhouse car park (weekdays only - they're in use by members at weekends).
A children's trim trail was installed on the western side near the Victorian Cemetery in 2015. Funds for this came from developers under a Section 106 Agreeement - a valuable mechanism for securing a range of requirements in connection with planning permissions often to enhance the amenity needs of the local area.
Some areas are mown only a few times a year in order to encourage wildflowers and wildlife. Paths are mown within these areas to allow people to enjoy them without needing to walk through long grass. A botanical survey was carried out in May 2021 - you can read the report here1.19 MB.
The avenue of trees now known as Frees Avenue was first planted in 1910 by the then Mayor, Thomas Free to mark the accession of King George V to the throne. Sadly, disease has taken its toll and in February 2016 it was decided that some of these trees would need to be felled. A plan to replace them is currently being drawn together.
The Diamond Jubilee Plantation, a small orchard in the shape of a diamond, was begun in 2012 to commemorate the year of Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee by the Marlborough Community Orchard Group. The first trees to be planted were a mixture of Wiltshire apple varieties and crab apples, with other fruits, including plums and damsons, added later. Read more
A commemorative wood to mark the soldiers who fell in WW1 has been planted on The Common to mark the centenary of the end of that war. Read more
earthworks - possibly a medieval bowling green - on the southern edge (look for the grassy mounds behind the bus stop)
a former workhouse and children's convalescent home (now within Merlin Court)
a milestone to Wootton Bassett along Frees Avenue
Bronze Age burial barrows to the north
Moving into the more modern era, you'll find two marker stones near the steps on the eastern edge of The Common. These commemorate the site of both a Secondary Modern School and the 347th Station Hospital, United States Army. Users of The Common may have walked past this latter stone alongside the A346 without a second thought as the lettering was unreadable for some time. In 2015, Neil Stevens contacted us as part of his research into US GIs and, in particular, the history of the 347th Station Hospital that was based here from May 1944 to July 1945, looking into the possibility of restoring the stone. Marlborough man, Mark Nash, a 3rd generation painter with a shared interest, volunteered his services and cleaned and repainted the stone in the spring of 2016. Read more...
On Sunday 11 November 2018, Armistice Day and exactly 100 years since the end of WW1, the Last Post was sounded and at 7pm Town Mayor, Lisa Farrell, lit a beacon on The Common to signify lights coming back on after the darkness of war. As the bells of St Mary's Church rang out, Town Crier Mike Tupman read a Cry for Peace and the names of the Marlborough men who fell in the Great War were read out. There was a great turnout from the people of the town who ended the event with a rousing verse of 'God Save the Queen'. Also to mark the centenary of the end of World War 1 a commemorative wood was been planted, with a tree for each soldier who lost their lives.
Did you know..?
In ancient times, The Common was known as 'The Thorns'
At one time cattle and sheep fairs were held on The Common. They also took place on The Green, thereby giving the name to nearby streets: Herd Street and Blowhorn Street
Nearby, what is now Merlin Court Care Home was once the site of a workhouse, then an isolation hospital
There was once a bowling green in the area where the swings now sit
In the 19th Century there was jump horse racing on the Common? It moved further out of town and evolved into what is now Barbury International eventing and horse trials
1764: earliest known reference to horse racing on Marlborough Common
1836: Inhabitants of Marlborough are granted rights of pasturage on Marlborough Common
1846: Borough Council authorises the building of a grandstand, used by spectators during horse races. The Marlborough Cup was awarded to the winner
1876: Grandstand removed
1882: Seats placed at 'The Clump' near the Cemetery road
1888: Permission granted to build a golf course
1899: Borough Council issues a Scheme for Regulation and Management of Marlborough Common
1910: The avenue of trees, now known as Frees Avenue, was planted by the Borough Council on the accession of King George V
1924: Cemetery opens
1938: Byelaws approved (superseding the 1899 regulations)
1940: The Common is requisitioned by the War Office - first used for a tented camp
1944: The American 347th Station Hospital is built to receive the wounded from the D-Day invasion of Europe
1946: The Common is handed back to the Borough Council with the military huts still standing
1946: Marlborough Secondary Modern School is located in the hospital buildings. The school will operate here from 1947 to 1966
1958: The Common is levelled and re-seeded
1966: Secondary Modern moves to new buildings in Chopping Knife Lane
1974: Grass banks reinstated in Frees Avenue and unlawful caravans moved by the Town Council
1975: Pony and Horse Fairs and circuses held; grazing rights issued to residents of the town
1976: Marlborough Golf Club given permission for a scheme to supply water to the greens; trees with Dutch Elm disease are felled
1977: Horse and Machinery Fairs held; further diseased Elms felled; tinkers removed under byelaws; permission given to Children's Hospital for a bonfire
1980: Vehicle barriers erected; footpath constructed opposite Portfields Estate
2016: Commemorative stone restored for 347th Airborne Military Hospital
2018: New tennis courts open
2018/19: Commemorative wood planted to mark the centenary of the end of World War 1; Beacon installed