Scope and Content

Contains: Minutes of Joint Committee, Commons Preservation Society and the Ramblers Association, Public Paths Sub-Committee 1950; Central Rights of Way Committee 1950-1956; records of court actions 1866-1914; manuscript extracts of court rolls of the Manor of Loughton, Essex (1570-c1867) 1867; Private Bills Report; Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society 1900-1915; Copy of Portfield Enclosure Act, Borough of Haverfordwest (1840) 1961; notes and schedules of Kesteven Inclosures (1938) Revision 1967; Report, Study of the Connections between the National Trust and the Open Spaces Society 1990; Printed - Inclosure of Commons: reports from select committees of the House of Commons (in the years 1795, 1797, 1800) 1965; publication - The Commons Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society 1865-1965: a short history of the society and it's work 1965; publication - Our Common, Our Village Green - an action pack 1988; Advertising, recruiting leaflets 1988; parliamentary papers 1845-1965; maps of Bromley, Chatham, Cumberland, Cheshire Sussex, Chilterns, Lancashire, Denbighshire,Derby, Dorset, Dulverton, Harmondsworth, Hertfordshire, Kent, Sussex, Watford, London, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Stafford, Surrey, Yorkshire, Great Britain, Ireland, France 1790-1895; transparencies of images relating to Surrey, London Parks, London, Kenwood, Hampstead, Kent and Pilgrims Way, New Forest, general rights of way, King's Highway, Bekrhsire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Derbyshire, Cornwall, Devonshire, Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Man, Lake District, Lincolnshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Northumberland, Scotland, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Sussex, Wales, Wiltshire, Yorkshire n.d.; press cuttings scrapbook 1910-1911

Administrative / Biographical History

Lord Eversley, the former Liberal MP and minister, founded the Commons Preservation Society in 1865. The aim of the society was to save London commons for the enjoyment and recreation of the public. It's committee members included such important figures as Octavia Hill, the social reformer, Sir Robert Hunter, solicitor and later co-founder of the National Trust, Professor Huxley and the MP's Sir Charles Dilke and James Bryce. Most of the society's members initially came from the south east, so their interests focused on London.

In 1899 the Commons Preservation Society amalgamated with the National Footpaths Society, adopting the title Commons Open Spaces Society and Footpath Preservation Society. The shortened name, Open Spaces Society was adopted in the 1980's. The society promoted important pieces of legislation, including the Commons Act of 1876 and 1899. Today it's principal task is advising local authoritites, commons committees, voluntary bodies, and the general public on the appropriation of commons and other open spaces. It also scrutinises applications that affect public rights of way. It has no branch organisation but works with local and regional bodies. It's membership, therefore, is small. The society also publishes a quarterly journal as well as a wide variety of literature.


AD Administrative and Commercial Records

CO Legal Records of Companies and Businesses

P Publications, Promotions and Advertising Records

P2 Individual Advertising and Servicing Publications

P2/A Publications of the Society

P2/B Publications of other Organisations: Parliamentary Papers

P9 Other publications: maps

PH5 Photographs: transparencies

SP Social and Personal Records

Access Information

Open for consultation

Acquisition Information

Accession numbers DX186, DX187


Compiled by Caroline Gould, 19 December 2002

Other Finding Aids

A detailed catalogue is available at the Museum of English Rural Life

Conditions Governing Use

Please contact the Archivist

Corporate Names