Friday, December 29, 2006

Enjoying the green

click photo to enlarge
The village green has graced England's villages for about 1500 years, and, whilst they are under threat by developers and the demand for car parking space, about 3,650 still survive in one form or another. Often including a pond, perhaps a few trees, and frequently overlooked by a pub or two, these grassed areas were, and still are, used for sports, pastimes, meetings, fairs, and other individual and communal activities.

Many were "commons", that is to say, owned by the community, though some belonged to the lord of the manor. Today they are often looked after by the local authority. Greens are more commonly found in the south and east of the country. Hertfordshire has more than one hundred, and, with the counties of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Middlesex and Surrey, accounts for about a third of all village greens. The shape and size of greens varies. Many are triangular, bounded by roads. Durham's are most often rectangular. Large greens can cover more than 100 acres, but most are much smaller. Yet, even tiny greens such as that in Upper Settle, North Yorkshire can boast a "Jubilee Tree" (Victoria's), or perhaps a maypole, as at Long Preston (also North Yorkshire).

Lytham Green at Lytham, Lancashire is unusual in a number of respects: it was a gift to the community by the Clifton family, it is next to the sea, and it has a very elongated shape following the shoreline. This well-used open space hosts regular events like Lytham Club Day and the annual visit of the fair. However, it principally serves as an area for pleasurable recreation - walking, cycling, flying kites, playing football, etc. Long may it continue to do so! My photograph shows people enjoying the Green, and features its two most significant buildings - a large, white windmill of 1805, and the former lifeboat house of 1863 - both now museums. I used a long zoom lens at 268mm (35mm equivalent), with the camera at Aperture Priority (f10 at 1/125 sec - quite why I didn't change this I don't know!), the ISO at 100, and -0.3EV.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen