Owners of the land
Sir: The readers of Historical Notes on 1 March ("Private property is a public asset too") learned that "landowners have been gradually forced to accept ... public footpaths". This is incorrect for the great areas of Midland England which were subject to Enclosure Acts.
In the case of Flore parish the Act of 1778 made provision for various public and private rights of way, including footpaths "and that it shall not be lawful for any Person or Persons, after the setting out of such new Roads or Ways, to use or claim the Use of any Roads or Ways, either public or private, through the same new Inclosures or Allotments, or any Part thereof, either on Foot or with Horses, Cattle or Carriages".
Though there were some objections to the Enclosure Acts the process was democratic and expensive. The landowners had their say, and often wanted the footpaths to allow their workers to get to work.
No doubt as agriculture declines and the land goes to waste, more liberal access will be legalised. Meanwhile Marion Shoard has no right to roam and should stick to the footpaths. If she wants to go off the paths to get a better photograph she can ask permission.
JOHN M SMITH
Flore Heritage Society
Flore, NorthamptonshireReuse content