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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): CLA/078
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Full title: OPEN SPACES
Date(s): 1703-1999
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 1.3 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Corporation of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Corporation of the City of London has been responsible for the preservation of many open spaces in and around London since the mid-nineteenth century, largely stemming from its long and famous legal battles to prevent the enclosure of Epping Forest, which it finally acquired, and still maintains, under the authority of the Epping Forest Act 1878. By the Corporation of London (Open Spaces) Act 1878, the Corporation was authorised to acquire land within 25 miles of the City as open space for the recreation and enjoyment of the public.

The open spaces outside the City were not acquired and are not supported at the expense of the local or national taxpayer: they are currently maintained out of the Corporation's own private funds, known as the City's Cash, or money from charitable bequests. Because some of the open spaces were originally purchased with money out of the Corporation's corn duty funds, the Corporation's foremost finance committee, the Coal, Corn and Finance (later the Coal, Corn and Rates Finance) Committee, had an interest in such open spaces from the beginning until 1966. It was therefore this committee which originally managed most of the Corporation's open spaces outside the City, except for Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, which was administered by the City Lands Committee from the 17th century. West Ham Park always had, and still has, its own separate Committee of Managers. From 1 September 1966 responsibility for those open spaces was transferred to the Epping Forest Committee, which was thence renamed the Epping Forest and Open Spaces Committee. At the same time, responsibility for Bunhill Fields Burial Ground passed from the City Lands Committee to the Streets Committee, now the Planning and Transportation Committee, which administers Bunhill Fields and those open spaces which are within the City through its Trees, Gardens and Open Spaces Sub-Committee.

The open spaces outside the City of London which are owned and maintained by the Corporation of London include the following: Epping Forest (including Wanstead Park); Burnham Beeches; Kent and Surrey Commons (including Coulsdon Commons (i.e. Coulsdon and Kenley Commons, Riddlesdown and Farthingdown), Spring Park, West Wickham Common, and Ashtead Common); West Ham Park; Highgate Wood; Queen's Park, Kilburn; Hampstead Heath; Bunhill Fields Burial Ground.

Former open spaces and related areas outside the City, no longer owned or operated by the Corporation, include the following: Shiplake Island; Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey (not an open space); Richmond Park.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records relating to the management of open spaces in and around London, 1703-1999, including issues of Ashtead Common News, 1991-1997; histories and guidebooks, transcriptions of inscriptions, tomb surveys, bills for maintenance work and financial accounts for Bunhill Fields Burial Ground, 1703-1991; guidebooks, photographs, papers on pollard and tree management and newsletters for Burnham Beeches, 1883-1998; issues of West Wickham and Coulsdon Commons newsletter, later renamed Kent and Surrey Commons newsletter, 1989-1997; pamphlets, guidebooks and newsletters for Hampstead Heath, 1990-1999; guidebooks, pamphlets and histories of Highgate Wood, 1974-1986; financial accounts, brochures and photographs for Queen's Park, Kilburn, 1884-1987; reports, administrative papers, histories and list of war staff for West Ham Park, 1901-1991 and general papers regarding open spaces, churchyards and gardens maintained by the Corporation of London, including brochures, guidebooks and 'Britain in Bloom' certificates, 1870-1993.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In sections according to catalogue.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Corporation of London Records Office.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For Corporation of London records relating to open spaces, parks, forests and gardens, see: CLA/077: Epping Forest, CLA/078: Open Spaces, COL/CC/BFC: Bunhill Fields Committee, COL/CC/CCF: Coal, Corn and Finance Committee, COL/CC/CCR: Coal, Corn and Rates Finance Committee, COL/CC/EFC: Epping Forest and Open Spaces Committee, COL/CC/HHM: Hampstead Heath Management Committee, COL/CC/HWJ: Highgate Wood Joint Consultative Committee, COL/CC/MGC: Metage on Grain Committee, COL/CC/WHP: Committee of Managers of West Ham Park, and see COL/CCS/PL, COL/PL, COL/PLD/PL and COL/SVD/PL for plans and maps.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
February 2009

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