Mounted Keepers

The Commons are patrolled all year round between dawn and dusk. The most effective form of transport on the Commons is horses, as they can cope with the rigorous conditions. Our Mounted Keepers have relied on horses for getting around the Commons for over 70 years.

The uniformed Keepers, usually a team of 6 but currently only 4, are all competent horsemen, at home with the ways of the countryside. Their role is to uphold the 1871 Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act and protect the safety of Commons users - all are first-aid trained.

For security purposes, the Commons are divided into three sectors; each sector is patrolled twice daily by one or more of the Keepers. The patrols take place between dawn and dusk and each patrol lasts up to about three hours. The main focus of the Keepers' role is to ensure that the users of the Commons are safe, but also to ensure that visitors aren't unwittingly breaking any of the by-laws which protect the Commons.

At walking pace, the horses can cover four miles in an hour and each horse is on patrol for an average of 6 hours a day, which gives you an idea of the vast area the Keepers cover each day. The Keepers also patrol on foot.

The Keepers are overseen by the Senior Keeper, John Shipton. 

John and all the other Keepers: Guy, Chris and Gilly have all served in the military and are used to the long hours in the saddle that the job requires. Over the years the Keepers have built an affinity with the Commons and know these 1100 acres better than most know their own back gardens and there isn’t much that escapes their ever-watchful eyes!

This is how a Keeper usually spends their day:

06.30hrs - Reveille stables (muck out, feed and groom).

07.30hrs - A Keeper commences patrol.

12.30 - 13.30hrs - Horses and Keepers are fed.

13.30hrs - Afternoon Patrol.

17.30hrs - Evening Stables (horses turned in, tack cleaned, horses fed off).

Designated Keepers patrol until last light, which during the summer means 21.30hrs. Although patrols do not take place during the hours of darkness, all staff are on call. The Commons are covered by a 24-hour listening watch which, if required, can mobilise at least two members of staff to deal with serious incidents.

These routines are carried out 365 days a year, come rain or shine, snow or heatwave!