Introduction to Midsummer Common
Flanked on one side by the River Cam with its many Cambridge University college boathouses, Midsummer Common is an ancient area of grassland that thrusts into the heart of Cambridge City. For many centuries fairs and other events have been staged on the Common, and this tradition continues today. At other times cattle graze the land bringing the country into the City. In recent years, the Common is prized as a potential source of biodiversity, a refuge in times of pandemic, and a tool to counter climate change.
History of Midsummer Common
Midsummer Common holds a rich history that is intertwined with early references to the city that emerged on the banks of the River Cam. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 875 refers to the town as Grantabrycge. It is clear that commonable meadows bordered the river and these evolved to serve the needs of the community in succeeding centuries. Click here for an overview of the history of Midsummer Common.
Biodiversity of the Common
The Common is predominately a grassland, but there is increasing interest in enhancing its biodiversity to address the evolving needs of our city-dwellers and threatened wildlife. While the Common has a primary strength of being a long established green space near the centre of Cambridge, a major weakness has been that the site has low ecological significance.
The 2019 – 2024 Management Plan outlines steps that would bolster the Common’s biodiversity by establishing islands of flowers, nettles, and thistles. These would be managed for the betterment of insects, bees and butterflies with care taken to minimise any negative impact on humans or cattle. The management plan raises other ideas for increasing biodiversity, such as, opening up water ditches that previously served the Common. To read more about enhancing biodiversity on the Common visit the Biodiversity section on the About page or click here to see the Management Plan
Looking Forward: Management Plan Summary
Midsummer Common is within Cambridge Conservation Area No 1 (Central) so any development works would require planning permission and would have to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area. The Management Plan seeks to strike a balance between those who would run a half-marathon, attend a fair or circus, watch fireworks or fly a kite and those who primarily view the Common as a vulnerable ecosystem that needs vigilant protection. For more information about the FoMC management plan, please click here