All that changed more than a century ago and, over the course of the past 100 years, the Common has become a peaceful place for people to exercise, relax and enjoy the wildlife.
Now, management of Gentleshaw Common, near Rugeley, Staffordshire, has been passed to Staffordshire Wildlife Trust which has just signed a 99-year lease with Lichfield District Council to maintain this vitally important site.
Gentleshaw Common, which covers 86 hectares, is located in the southern part of the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
It is Staffordshire's sixth largest area of lowland heath which is rare across the world with the UK having about a fifth of the global total, making it even more endangered and scarce than rainforests.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has taken on 99 year lease
The Common was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by English Nature in 1981. making it one of the country's very best wildlife and geological sites.
Management of the site has included the felling of trees and removal of bracken as they endanger the survival of rare heathland plants such as bilberry and cowberry, and prevent uncommon birds and reptiles from breeding on the heathland.
Information boards can be found at the entrance to mark out routes
Visitors can just turn up to walk their dogs, or they can take on one of the designated and marked walks which are supposed to take either 30 minutes, an hour, or 1.5 hours to complete.
Despite the muddy terrain, the Common proved a delightful place to visit with the last autumnal colours still in existence. And it will certainly warrant a return trip when the drier weather arrives in the spring.