THE Common in Southampton is a fantastic place, a mini-forest as it were, set virtually in the centre of our city and owned by us! We, the people, can go there anytime, without hindrance or entrance fee, enjoy the scenery, weather, freedom or even to be alone.

By Act of Parliament there can be no building there, and vigilant and very powerful societies guard against infringements, particularly by the council.

It is not unrealistic to imagine, that had it not been for the fact that in 1228 the "concorde" with Nicholas de Surlie was (by accident) with "the Burgesses of Southampton" and not the town itself, the area by now would have been lost to the people as a haven and recreational centre.

Perhaps there is a lesson here? Although, (we seem to recall) the Marlands were similarly acquired on the promise they would be "a permanent and perpetual place for Southampton children to play", and look at them now!

Anyway, we burgesses must maintain our watch for predators, especially political ones.

One of the most "nostalgic" areas of The Common as regards times long ago, is what is now called Bassett Cross Roads - the junction of The Avenue with Burgess Road. Incidentally, this cross-town road is probably the oldest highway around, it being the path taken from Eling to Woodmill, and was almost certainly straightened up, resurfaced and maintained by the Romans at Clausentum who needed a quick way to the West.

Anyway, within yards of the Cross Roads at Bassett to the East is "Cut-thorne" where the ancient Court Leet met (and still occasionally do!). You can find it today without much trouble.

On the other side of The Avenue was a very old Well, Cut-thorne Cross, Town Gallows and finally the main Town Reservoir. Further along is the Rosemary Stone and nearby Hode Cross.

Older readers will remember back in the 1930s there being a short extension of the tramway lines here to enable trams to "turn round". Still possible to see are the remains of the "Carriage-Way and part of the old Race-Course". The woods and walks here are delightful, possibly the best part of the whole peaceful Common. Go there. See and feel it yourself.