Professor's book dedicated to history of Beverley's common ground
SHE is the softly spoken history professor who took on East Riding Council over the removal of cobbles from Beverley town centre and won.
Now Professor Barbara English, of Beverley and District Civic Society, has penned a book dedicated to one of her greatest loves – the open commons surrounding the town.
She said: "I've lived for 45 years overlooking Westwood and never got tired of looking at it."
Beverley Westwood, which has been a playground for sport and relaxation over the centuries, including horse racing from 1690 and golf from 1889, is by far the best known of the three pastures that surround the market town.
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Lesser known Swine Moor – which has barely changed over the centuries – is designated for its plants and birds, but recently lost adjoining fields and hedges to a new hospital.
Figham, first recorded in 1255, lost land in the 20th century to a road building scheme and has been damaged by sewage dumping.
Prof English said: "In the civic society we've taken quite a lot of notice of the Westwood but we've had very little input into Figham or Swine Moor.
"We have three great pastures, all with different characters. We thought the book would help people to understand them.
"There's a terrific heritage with these common lands, they are the only urban commons in the East Riding and are among the most important sets of common lands in England.
"We're lucky to have them in Beverley. Some people might not even have been to Figham.
"What I wanted to produce was a celebration of the pastures."
A "celebration" it may be but "Beverley Pastures", published by Beverley and District Civic Society to celebrate its 50th anniversary, also has a serious point to make.
The pastures only enjoy the protection afforded to common land, none of them are listed.
Prof English said: "They go unnoticed and therefore we think are at threat. "Encroachments on all the pastures continue as they have done from the beginning.
"Burton Bushes on Westwood is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The rest doesn't have that protection.
"When they built the new hospital they said that Swine Moor was not protected.
"Then they had to stop work because there were newts and snakes, we all knew they were there."