It lies near to the M4 and A34 roads, and is located approximately 2.5 miles (4.0 km) north of Newbury. It consists of lowland heathland of heather, gorse, wet bog and small trees and broadleaved woodland. There are several rabbit warrens and it is a home to the smaller breeds of deer and other small mammals, snake, lizards and birds such as kestrels and green woodpeckers. rarer species include the palmate newt and nightjar.
Snelsmore became a common in the medieval period. Extant rights there include the grazing of cattle and ponies, the collection of fallen timber and fuel, the digging of gravel and the shooting of game. The cutting of peat and turf and fishing are also allowed, but not practical. Cattle did indeed return to the common in 1999.
During the Second World War the common was taken over for military uses, and had quantities of petrol stored in jerrycans by the 3900 Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company stockpiled for the Normandy landings. It became a country park in 1972, and is managed as public open space by the Snelsmore Common Country Park Management Committee for West Berkshire Council.
During 1995-6 woodland at the south end of the common became an early base for campaigners protesting against the proposed Newbury bypass. The English band New Model Army immortalized the conflict in their song "Snelsmore Woods". Following eviction of the protesters, the construction of the road went ahead through a part of the common, and an equivalent area of common was added to the west.
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