Stoneleigh Meadows comprise 12 acres of river meadowland between the River Sowe and Vicarage Road and provide a public open space for villagers and visitors to the village. It was in 1981 that the Stoneleigh Estate announced that they wished to sell this piece of land and, to avoid any possibility of it being purchased for development, it was to be offered in ‘pony-paddock’ sized lots. A local resident, the late Phil Mead, with a number of near neighbours, realised that multiple ownership of this land would prevent public access and they set about raising funds to purchase the whole plot and retain it as a public open space. Funds were raised from various charities and supplemented by individual donations. A Company limited by guarantee was incorporated as a non-profit making entity having charitable objects which was registered as a charity (number 5122760) following which the land was purchased in 1982. The charity is administered by a board of directors, its annual accounts are filed at the Companies Registry and it makes a return required by the Charities Acts to the Charity Commission each year.
The specific objects of the charity include ‘the promotion of the permanent preservation for the benefit of the public generally and especially the inhabitants of the Parish of Stoneleigh in the County of Warwickshire of the land known as Stoneleigh Meadows and other lands and buildings of beauty or historic interest.’
The Meadows now provide a wonderful amenity for the village enjoyed by many walkers, whilst the land is regularly used for village events such as the duck race, bonfire night, car-parking for weddings and funerals and occasional grazing for animals and for which these users make donations. At the present time, donations are just about sufficient to cover costs of maintenance (mowing, fence repairs and insurance). Occasionally, it is necessary to seek donations from the village at large, and this was done several years ago to support a tree planting programme.
A recent (December 2011) new element in the Stoneleigh Meadows has been the planting of a Village Orchard. The enthusiastic members of the Orchard Project Team will also feature wild flowers in the orchard.
The present Meadows Society Directors are: Mike Baker (chairman), David Vaughan, Mike Murray, Peter Whitehouse, Martin Cooper and Robin Bussell (secretary/ treasurer).