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We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Frances Kerner from Buckinghamshire as our Commons Re-registration Officer.
Frances will be researching lost commons which are eligible for registration as common land under part 1 of the Commons Act 2006. Under Part 1, there is a new opportunity to register lost commons which were provisionally registered in 1967–70 under the Commons Registration Act 1965, but where the registration was subsequently withdrawn or cancelled. It is only possible to do this in certain parts of England* and Wales**, and the work must be completed in some areas by 31 December 2020.
Frances will look first at the opportunities in Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen where the society believes there is considerable potential to rescue lost commons.
Once registered the land is protected from encroachment and development, and the public has the right to walk over the entire area. If the land is within a former urban district, it is also open by right to horse-riders.
Frances is well qualified to do this work. She has enjoyed careers in the private and public sector working in health, telecommunications and education. Many years ago, an inspirational history teacher alerted her to the joy of researching local history. Over time her interest developed into rural history and more specifically, the survival and enclosure of common land. Frances achieved her PhD on Enclosure and Survival: Common Land in the Buckinghamshire Chilterns c.1600 – c.1900.
Says Frances: ‘With my combined administrative experience and historical research skills I feel this is just the job for me, and I am looking forward to enabling the society to re-register common land under part 1 of the Commons Act 2006. This should open up new areas for public enjoyment, on foot and horseback.’
Adds Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We are excited to have been able to create this new post, thanks to a generous bequest from the late Jack Candy, a long-standing member of the society who was a distinguished defender of commons and open spaces in Southampton.
‘With less than three years left to discover lost commons the work is now urgent and we are delighted that Frances will be carrying out this research.’
Frances lives in Booker near High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. When she is not researching in the archives, she enjoys gardening, walking and spending time with her family. She is chair of Booker and District Local History Group, an informal group that researches local history and delivers an annual talk to residents.
* By 31 December 2020: Blackburn with Darwen, Cornwall, Devon, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Kent and Lancashire.
* By 15 March 2027: Cumbria and North Yorkshire.
** By 4 May 2032: Wales