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Village green

From Academic Kids

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The village green in Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire, UK
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The traditional village green

A village green is an common open area which is a part of a settlement. Traditionally, such an area was often common grass land at the centre of a small agricultural settlement, used for grazing and sometimes for community events. Some may also have a pond, originally for watering stock.

The green is traditionally at a central location and provides an open-air meeting place for the people of a village, for example at times of celebration, or for public ceremonies. May Day festivities are traditionally located at the green, with the Maypole erected at its centre.

The common use of the term village green reflects a perception of a rural, agricultural idyllic past. However the actuality of such locations always has been very wide, and can encompass woodland, moorland, sports grounds, and even — in part — buildings and roads. They may also be positioned far from the centre of the community, especially if the community has moved, or been absorbed into a larger settlement.

Village greens under threat

Greens are increasingly rare and are mainly to be found in the older villages of mainland Europe, and the United Kingdom. Inclosure, the agricultural revolution, and urban development have led to the loss of a number of village greens. Town expansion in the mid 20th century led in England to the formation of local conservation societies, often centring on village green preservation, as celebrated and parodied in The Kinks' album The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. The Open Spaces Society is the present-day UK national campaigning body which continues this movement.

Town and village greens

As well as the general use of the term, Village Green has a specific legal meaning in England and Wales, and also includes the less common term Town Greens. Town and Village Greens are defined in the Commons Registration Act 1965, as amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, as land

  1. which has been allotted by or under any Act for the exercise or recreation of the inhabitants of any locality
  2. or on which the inhabitants of any locality have a customary right to indulge in lawful sports and pastimes
  3. or if it is land on which for not less than twenty years a significant number of the inhabitants of any locality, or of any neighbourhood within a locality, have indulged in lawful sports and pastimes as of right.

This means that it is possible, by twenty years' unchallenged use, for land to become a village green. Unfortunately the legislation is less clear about what this means, and although village green legislation is often used in attempts to frustrate development, it is far from clear what rights and duties are given to the owners and users of village greens in these circumstances. It also leads to some most curious areas being claimed as village greens, sometimes with success. Recent examples include a bandstand, and a beach.

The Open Spaces Society states that in 2005 there were about 3650 registered greens in England and about 220 in Wales, covering about 8150 and 620 acres (33 and 2.5 km²) respectively.

Examples

A notable example of a village green is that in the village of Finchingfield in the English county of Essex, which is said to be "the most photographed village in England." The green dominates the village, and slopes down to a duck pond, and is occasionally flooded when it has been raining too much.

There are two places in the United States called Village Green: Village Green-Green Ridge, Pennsylvania, and Village Green, New York. Some New England towns refer to their town square as a village green.

In Indonesia, especially in Java, a similar place is called Alun-Alun. It is a central part of Javanese village architecture and culture.

External links

nl:Brink

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