Frensham Common, Surrey

NAME OF COMMON: Frensham

PARISH: Frensham

COUNTY: Surrey

CL NUMBER: 87 [229.4 ha], 232 [29.58 ha], 430 [39.93 ha], 258 [2.97 ha], plus several small CL units.

ACREAGE: Approx. 1000 a (400 ha)

 

INTRODUCTION

Frensham Common lies in the parish of Frensham, borough of Waverley and county of Surrey.  It comprises approximately 400 hectares (1000 acres) of heathland, woodland and open water.  The land is owned by the National Trust and is largely managed by Waverley Borough Council.  It has multiple environmental designations, including SSSI, SAC, SPA, AONB, and Scheduled Ancient Monument status.  It is also a popular recreational space for day visitors, walkers, naturalists, horse riders etc., and has car parks and facilities for sailing, boating, angling and swimming.  The largest areas of open water are the ‘Great’ and ‘Little’ Ponds.  In the twentieth century, the Common was an important resource for local people, described by one resident as both a ‘playground’ and a ‘larder’, and it also attracted day visitors from further afield.  It was a major military training ground.  Agricultural uses and active land management seem to have faded in the aftermath of the Second World War, leading to striking changes in vegetation.  As with many commons, it is registered not as one large unit, but as numerous separate pieces.  The major ones have been listed above, but these are not necessarily exhaustive. Rights registered to different CL units include grazing, estovers, piscary, soil. A note on source material: The summary presented here is drawn from the reports of seven research interviews conducted in 1997 by Clare Simkin for the Surrey Heathland Project, which looked at ‘Reminiscences of Surrey Heathland’.  Surrey County Council has made these reports available to the Building Commons Knowledge Project for analysis and presentation on the web (please see below for further detail).

 

HISTORY

Click on the links below to see summary information on each theme:

1. How was the common used and how has use of the common changed?

2. How was the common regulated?

3. How has the common itself changed?

 

SOURCES

The Commons Story presented here is drawn from the reports of seven research interviews conducted in 1997 by researcher Clare Simkin for the Surrey Heathland Project.  Surrey County Council has made these reports available to the Building Commons Knowledge Project for analysis and presentation on the web.  Please note that the source materials are interview reports, which record interveiwees’ memories and speech, but are not necessarily complete transcripts.  The memories of those who took part in the interviews were not necessarily confined to one specific CL unit, and though they mostly relate to Frensham Common, aspects may also encompass other heaths and commons in the vicinity.  It has not always been possible to date these memories to specific years or decades, but the interviewees appear to have been aged 60 and upwards when interviewed in 1997 (one interviewee was born in 1908, another in 1917, and a third in the early 1930s; the dates-of-birth of the other four are not recorded).  Overall, their reminiscences span much of the twentieth century (from memories of the impact of the First World War to recent landscape changes in the 1990s), but the majority of their reminiscences seem to be concentrated in the interwar and immediate post-war years, with the end of the Second World War perceived by many as something of a watershed on the common.  The reference numbers of the reports used here are: 2, 4, 10, 11, 12, 24, 25.  The full interview reports will be made available (in an anonymous form) on this website shortly.  They can also be seen at Surrey History Centre.

 

USEFUL WEBSITES:

Frensham Parish Council

National Trust: Frensham Pages

Surrey County Council Heathland Project

Surrey History Centre

Waverley Borough Council: Frensham Common Pages

 

 

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to Surrey County Council for the use of this material, and to Clare Simkin, who conducted the research interviews and produced the reports on which these summaries are based.

Compiler: Building Commons Knowledge Project