Numbers 6 to 21 Camden Crescent are designated as Grade I Listed buildings, the remainder are Grade II.
Jane Austen fans will know that in Persuasion the Elliot family rented lodgings at ‘Camden Place’, as the Crescent was by then known. It may have been an uphill, “toilsome walk” to get there, but the reward was “a lofty, dignified situation, such as becomes a man of consequence”.
Nineteenth century property deeds refer to Camden Lawn below the Crescent as a well-kept sloping lawn with unhindered views up to the Crescent and down to Hedgemead Park and the city beyond.
The Council steps in; local people mobilise to help out
The land is steep and difficult to both utilise and maintain so, in 1964, the Camden Crescent residents sold it to the Council (for £1) in order to safeguard its upkeep. The terms of the sale prohibited allowing anything to grow over 3 ft tall.
In recent years, however, the Council has also struggled, with declining funds, to properly maintain the land - sporadically managing small areas as and when they can, but leaving much of essentially unmanaged.
Recognising the Council's struggles, local people have at times over the last 10 years or so mobilised, rolled up their sleeves and volunteered on the land - with some success too. To this day, people will have very fond memories of the family of pigs (see image below) that were drafted in to help tame back the wilderness. And the wildflower meadow planted by local volunteers remains, and can flourish again with a bit of TLC (part of our plan for the site - see Vision).
Despite all the efforts, the land remains in need of management - more of it, and more often. As it is, it's an underperforming asset and, in its current state, no longer in keeping with the Listed status of Camden Crescent nor with Bath as a World Heritage City.
Access and ecology
Although the land is in public ownership, there is no public access to it - even when well maintained it is too steep in places to be safe, with a number of sudden sharp drops and precipices.
Ecologically (based on site inspections and ecological survey information from the Council), apart from the small grassed area in the middle of the site, hazel trees and laurels dominate the land. They have been allowed to grow to such an extent that little else can compete or flourish. It might look like an expanse of green from the vantage point of Camden Road above but, get a little closer to it at ground level, and there is very little diversity - and what there is will soon be lost as the hazel and laurel canopy develops further, creating a near monoculture and precious little biodiversity.
This is where Friends of Camden Meadow come in, and the Vision we're working towards.