Contrary to what many people believe, commons do not belong to the public. Like most other commons, Cleeve is in fact privately owned. What makes it ‘common’ is that certain local landowners have grazing rights, entitling them to graze specified numbers of sheep, cattle and other animals between April and November.

Cleeve Common is different to most other commons in that it is managed by a Board of Conservators. The Board was established in 1890 by an Act of Parliament, which gave it sole management responsibility for Cleeve Common, allowing it to make Bylaws to protect and preserve the site for generations to come. Today’s Board of Conservators is made up of representatives appointed by local boroughs and parishes and the landowner. See the Management section for more about how the Board carries out its role.

Public access is authorized under ‘right to roam’ legislation for most recreational activities carried out on foot. The Board of Conservators also permits a wide range of other recreational activities, but some are restricted to designated areas. See the ‘Things to do’ section for more information.