Thursday, 3 December 2015

The South Common, Lincoln's Southern Entrance

Lincoln Cathedral from the top of the South Common
Common Lands are a survival of the medieval age, commons were an essential part of the manorial estate, tenants of the lord of the manor would be allotted a part of the common.  Most of today's common lands are solely for grazing, but previously the land would have had many uses, ie, rights to take wood, graze pigs in the autumn, take sods for fuel.  Much of the common land of this country was lost at the enclosures, it was seen as an opportunity for landowners to claim common land for themselves.  The total common land today in this country totals no more than 4% of the total land area.

The South Common is one of three surviving common lands in Lincoln, the others are the West Common and the Cow Paddle.  The Lincoln commons are "owned by the Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of Lincoln".  Until 150 years ago there were two other commons, Monks Leys Common, the bulk of which was sold for housing and the remainder was used for the Arboretum; Holmes Common, this was sold to The Great Northern Railway.

Any householder living south of High Bridge had a right to graze cattle on the South Common, although Freemen had rights to graze a greater number.  The area of the common is approximately 180 acres, although may have been reduced because of the recent modifications on the hill section of Canwick Road.

The Promenade
In 1843 iron fencing was used to surround the South Common and at about the same time a new pathway was established which ran across the crest of the hill and was called the "Promenade", the picture to the right is a postcard that was posted in July 1909

At a location near the top of the common stood a cross, it was here that the mayor, sheriff and other civic dignitaries would greet important visitors to the City.  By 1600 the cross had been removed by "some evil disposed person", the corporation ordered that a stone be placed at the spot as a marker, this too has been lost.

At the south east corner of the South Common once stood the city gallows.

The first Roman legion is believed to have erected a fort on the South Common, it would have been a wooden palisade structure.  Ermine Street crossed the A15 just below Cross O' Cliff Close, running down the common, crossing South Park west of Queen's Park.  Ermine Street divided at the top of the common, a direct route so that troops could be moved quickly to any troublespot, and an easier route for carts, etc.

First published 17th May 2015

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