On 29 June 2022 we shall celebrate the centenary of the Law of Property Act 1922. The principal purpose of the Act was to modernise the law of real property. The Act abolished copyholds, the form of land tenure whereby tenants’ rights, including rights of common, were recorded by the manorial courts. The society was alarmed by this: when attempts were made to enclose commons, we always referred to the manorial records to ascertain the existence of common rights.
Accordingly, we campaigned for and won provisions which gave the public the right to walk and ride on certain commons, and which protected commons from development and encroachment by requiring the minister’s consent for any works. These became sections 193 and 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925, and are integral to the society’s work to protect common land and ensure the public can enjoy it.
In 1997, Open Spaces Society trustee and vice-president Bernard Selwyn wrote a comprehensive paper detailing the origins of sections 193 and 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925, and the society’s role in achieving them.
Sadly, Bernard died in 2018, but his years of devotion and dedication to the Open Spaces Society live on. You can read Bernard’s obituary here, and find his paper on the Origins of Sections 193 and 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925 linked below.