Historically the Commons were the waste land of the village but not everyone had the right to use it. The land was owned by the Lord of the Manor and it was his tenants who had rights of common to graze limited numbers of cows, sheep, horses and pigs and to take three cartloads of wood each year. In 1864 the 5th Earl Spencer, as Lord of the Manor, proposed the enclosure of Wimbledon Common as a park and the sale of Putney Heath as building land. Local residents opposed the plan and a long legal battle resulted in the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act of 1871 under which Earl Spencer gave up his rights to the land in return for an annuity of £1,200 and an undertaking that the local residents would be responsible for its maintenance. It is still the local residents who pay for the maintenance of the Commons.