Paul Clayden’s ‘Commons Bible’ Legacy

The Open Spaces Society, based in Henley has published the seventh edition of its ‘Commons Bible’, Our Common Land, the law and history of common land and village greens which was drafted by the late Paul Clayden, a long-time resident of Trinity Close, Henley.

Paul was the society’s general secretary from 1976 to 1984, and later its vice-president and wrote the previous four editions of the book.  Tragically, he died suddenly on 1 January 2020, and the society’s staff finalised his draft of the seventh edition.

There are 600,000 hectares (2,300 square miles) of common land in England and Wales.  It is special for its history, archaeology, wildlife, biodiversity, landscape, and culture, its vitality to upland farming in particular, and for informal recreation.  Commons have their own laws, some of which are complex.

The book brings the law up to date since the sixth edition was published in 2007.  It explains the intricacies of the Commons Act 2006, how to register land as common, how to protect it from abuse and encroachments, and who has rights to do what and where.

Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary of the Open Spaces Society said, “Paul has left us a fine legacy in this book.  He strove to make the complex law of commons more easily understood.  Anyone who is involved in commons, whether as a landowner, common right-holder, community group, or member of the public, needs to know about the laws which protect and govern common land.  Our book explains these in straightforward language.

“We want people to appreciate how important commons are, for their contribution to our environment and to our health and well-being.  The society champions commons to ensure that they remain open, unenclosed and inspirational places for all to enjoy.  We are grateful to Paul for all his work on this important book.”

The book costs £25 including post and packing.  Further information is on the society’s website here<