RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 416
Extent125 linear metres
TitleCommon Ground Archive
DescriptionThe Common Ground archive comprises a wide range of material created and collected by the charity in the course of its activities between 1982 and 2013, including project planning papers, correspondence, reports, financial papers, research material, press clippings, photographs, promotional material, and publications. The main section of the Common Ground relates to the charity's project work. This section is divided into 15 sub-sections, with each sub-section relating to a different project organised by the charity. This reflects the archive's original order and the way these records were used by the charity. The archive also includes sections relating to general administration, finance, publicity, publications and reference material. The archive has rich potential for interdisciplinary research in a wide range of areas, including environmental studies, geography, literature, visual arts, cultural studies, sociology and business studies.
Admin HistoryCommon Ground is an arts and environmental charity, which was established in 1982 and gained its charitable status in 1983. The founders of Common Ground were Sue Clifford, Angela King and Roger Deakin, who all had a background in environmental awareness. Sue Clifford had worked as a planner and as a lecturer in environmental planning; Angela King was the first wildlife campaigner for Friends of the Earth and a consultant to the Nature Conservancy Council; and Roger Deakin was an environmentalist and writer. In 1985, Common Ground set out its two main objectives: 'to promote the importance of our common cultural heritage - common plants and animals, familiar and local places, local distinctiveness and our links with the past; and to explore the emotional and spiritual value these things have for us by forging practical and philosophical links between the arts and the conservation of nature and landscapes' ('Holding Your Ground: An Action Guide to Local Conservation', 1985).

In addition to Clifford, King and Deakin, Common Ground's board of directors and trustees have included Richard Mabey, Robert Hutchinson, Barbara Bender, Robin Grove-White, Frazer Harrison and Rupert Nabarro. People who been involved in the administration of Common Ground and its projects include Sue Clifford, Roger Deakin, Darren Giddings, Tom Greeves, Katy Haines, David Cecil Holmes, Jane Hill, Vivienne Jones, Jane Kendall, Daniel Keech, Jean Kidd, Angela King, Judith Martin, Richard Mabey, Beatrice Mayfield, Joanna Morland, Jan Miller-Kirkpatrick, John Newton. Kate O'Farrell, Leana Pooley, Gerry Reardon, Neil Sinden, and Stephen Turner. Common Ground does not have branches or membership, and has instead obtained funding for its work from government agencies, charitable trusts, business, and donations. In July 1989, Common Ground won the Prudential Award for Visual Arts (£25,000).

Common Ground has been responsible for a number of pioneering projects and initiatives, which can be argued to have had a considerable impact on the cultural geography of Britain from the 1980s to the present day, especially in regard to the focus on 'local distinctiveness'. Through its projects, Common Ground has linked nature with culture and used celebration of the everyday as a starting point for local action. The projects run by Common Ground have sought to raise awareness of environmental concerns through arts and culture initiatives, in particular through the commissioning of artistic works; the organisation of exhibitions, events and conferences; the launching of new calendar customs; and the production of publications, as well as promotional material such as newsletters, leaflets and postcards. Over the years, Common Ground has worked with a number of artists, sculptors, craftspeople, writers, poets, composers and musicians to produce artworks, exhibitions, events and publications. Many of Common Ground's projects - in particular, 'Parish Maps' and 'Apple Day' - have proven to be highly sustainable, and their impact has continued long after Common Ground's active involvement in them ceased.

Common Ground was originally based in Covent Garden in London. The charity relocated within London three times (first the London Ecology Centre, then next door in Shelton Street, and then a block away in Earlham Street), before moving to Shaftesbury, Dorset in August 2001, where it continued under the leadership of Sue Clifford and Angela King until 2013. In 2013, the archive was gifted to University of Exeter Special Collections, and the directorship of the charity was passed to Adrian Cooper in Toller Fratrum, Dorset, where work continued.
LanguageEnglish, but includes some items in other languages
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialSee RD/ENV for material relating to Common Ground in the Roger Deakin archive, held by the Archives Department of the University of East Anglia.
Access ConditionsPlease note that access to some files is restricted subject to Data Protection legislation. Access may only be provided on a case-by-case basis and upon completion of a Data Protection form.
ArrangementMostly organised into sections according to the different Common Ground projects, in the original order it was kept and used in at Common Ground in Shaftesbury, Dorset. Please note: many of the projects overlap thematically and chronologically, and sections of the archive may contain material relevant to more than one project.

The sections have been arranged into new series to provide context of the different functions and activities of each project. Cataloguing was undertaken from January 2019 to December 2020. The original order of each file has been kept and most of the archive is still in its original housing (mostly box files, lever arch files, ring binders and magazine files), but some files have been repackaged into housing more suitable for preservation.

Any former reference numbers allocated to files or items in the box list have been noted in the alternative reference number field of the new catalogue. These old reference numbers appear to have been allocated to approximately half the files in the archive when they were deposited in 2013, and relate to the sequence in which the files were removed from the boxes (e.g. EUL MS 416/PRO/5/2/1 is the first file in the second box of Parish Maps material.)
Finding_AidsAn online guide can be found here:

Original box list also available (partial and highly inaccurate)
Creator_NameCommon Ground; arts and environmental charity (1982-)
Clifford; Susan [b 1944]
King; Angela [b 1944]
Deakin; Roger [1943-2006]
Mgt_GroupHistorical papers
Literary papers
Visual culture papers
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