square A4-A5, somewhere uncomfortable

Rights of common are a relic of the system on which land was cultivated in much of England long before the Norman Conquest, on into the middle ages and beyond. Common land rights were essential to the rural economy of the whole settlement.

There were/are 4 main types of land to which 'Common Rights' can be attached; arable, pasture, meadows and waste.

Common of Pasture

"Common Appendant was the right of the freehold tenants of the arable land of the manor, which existed independently of grant or prescription, to put upon the wastes of the manor - the commons - their commonable beasts."
This leads me to wonder, are dogs 'commonable beasts'?

Common of Estovers

"The right to take wood from the waste or woods of the manor"


"The right to take timber to repair ploughs, carts and other farm implements"


"The right to take timber to repair fences and gates"


"The right to take toppings and clippings for fuel"
Continues to be exercised in many areas and is a right which is often jealously protected.

Common of Turbary

"The right to dig or cut turf or peat for use as fuel in the commoner's house. Amount, place and time is usually defined."

Common in Soil

"The right to take sand, gravel, stone and minerals for use on commoner's holding, but not for sale."

Common of Piscary

"The right to take fish from ponds or streams"

These days the original reasons for common land are somewhat lost. We can get building materials cheaply and far easier than gathering them from the Common, and few of us keep livestock.
So why are the rights still kept? Sentiment? Or to protect some of the few pieces of green land left in our cities.

Rights Information
A History of Southampton
, Rev J Silvester Davies, 1st Ed 1885
Southampton: An Illustrated History, Adrian Rance, 1986
Common Lands of Hampshire, L E Tavener, 1952


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