During lockdown, we’ve all appreciated the ability to get out and explore our green spaces.

Whether it’s a walk in the countryside, or a quick walk along our urban paths, a bit of peace and quiet in the outdoors has helped all of us get through lockdown. But what if, during your walk, someone was to cut through your peace and start to get on your nerves?

Well, in some Test Valley parks, that person could be fined for ‘wilfully annoying another person’ and ejected by a council officer or policeman.

The unusual rules are thanks to byelaws made in the 20th century by the council, which prescribe certain regulations for specific parks in the borough.

In Andover, the Borough of Andover, one of the predecessors of Test Valley Borough Council, has two byelaws in place, one for Dene Path Recreation Ground, and another for Common Acre – now part of Vigo Park.

Test Valley also made similar byelaws for The Lake and Lakeside at Fernyhurst in Rownhams.

Under these laws, various activities are forbidden, including sensible prohibitions against the damaging of park furniture, banning the public’s vehicles from entering and putting up flyers.

However, the rules also proscribe other, more unusual activities, including beating dust out of a carpet; hanging laundry on a line; bringing any farm animal onto the land, except by prior arrangement; or even jumping the fence to get into the parks.

The most subjective rules include the concept of how annoying someone is, with individuals not allowed to “wilfully obstruct, disturb, interrupt or annoy any person” in the ground or “to the annoyance of any person play any musical instrument”.

While these offences may seem minor, they can result in fines. While in Andover, these fines can only be up to £2 (the equivalent of just over £50 when the first of the byelaws was set in 1956), Rownhams sees a steeper fine of up to £50, now valued at £164.35.

Furthermore, the offender can then be removed by “any officer of the council or by any constable” from the park.

In Andover, this situation is made even more unusual by the byelaws just for Common Acre. The Common Acre is a patch of land owned by the Andover Charities, and rented to the council for £5 a year. Deemed legally to have been a public space ‘since time immemorial’, the one acre strip of land was originally used for archery practice, with leases of the land making it a condition to have targets in the Middle Ages.

However, since the creation of Vigo Park, it is now joined to it, expect for a line of trees indicating the edge. This means that if anyone breaking the byelaws was spotted, they can just run through the trees and be out of the jurisdiction of the byelaws.

A spokesperson for Test Valley Borough Council confirmed that the byelaws are still in force, and can be enforced at any time.

However, before anyone has to hand over £2, the council added that officials would be more likely to use more recent legislation such as public space protection orders to defend the parks against anti-social behaviour.

So, as lockdown continues to relax, enjoy your time in Test Valley’s green spaces – just remember to not be too annoying.