This is not a battle which many people are aware of, but it should be much better known, as the result was nothing short of a revolution in land use and access. Despite massive opposition from the lord of the manor in both houses of parliament, a thirteen year struggle in the law courts resulted in the land being placed under the control and management of a group elected by local ratepayers to conserve the open space. Ownership of land is absolutely central to British law – the monarch owns everything, with lords of the manor managing the land on his behalf. This law totally changed this – it took control of land out of the hands of the lords and transferred it to an elected body, for the benefit of local people. This is not just a change in law, it is a change in attitude: no longer were ordinary people seen as vassals, but they were accepted as being capable of managing land on behalf of themselves and their communities.
In the same year, Parliament passed a measure which virtually repealed the Statute of Merton, on which many of the enclosures were based. This makes the year 1893 one of the high points in British democracy.