THE Open Spaces Society, Britain’s oldest national conservation body, celebrates the work of its early activist Octavia Hill in its magazine Open Space.
Octavia died a century ago this year and Open Spaces Society general secretary Kate Ashbrook has written about her.
Kate said: “Octavia was our heroine 20 years before she helped to found the National Trust. She is better known for her campaign for urban spaces and would have cheered our fight to stop the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from emasculating the law for registering land as a town or village green.
“Octavia is less well known for her advocacy of public paths. At our second annual general meeting in 1888 she seconded a motion to protect public paths.
“She made an eloquent speech, recalling how the ‘little, winding quiet byways with all their beauty’ were vanishing, and path entrances were ‘concealed by judicious planting, lodge gates or hidden doors’. She might have been speaking of today’s landowners and today’s paths which too often are made unwelcoming or intimidating.”