> In the Victorian and Edwardian eras paternalistic legislation required access to parkland throughout London, and it is virulently defended even today.
Sort of ballpark but not quite exactly true, and a story that deserves telling.
In Victorian and pre Victorian times wealthy landholders had extensive private gardens and follies, the money spent on and by top landscape designers to simulate Arcadia (idealised pastorial setting mixed in with follies after classical antiquity) was substantial and the passive aggressive competition to outdo others ratcheted upwards.
In Victorian times a philanthropic movement started to "gift" the concept of private parks and gardens to the public and the unwashed masses (well, to the middle classes more than to the actual unwashed and more seriously socially challenged).
Rather than being government required parks these were more individual gifts and many were passed into local government management using "peppercorn leases" (some of which I've actually handled) which bestowed the land to the public use in return for a nominal "rent" (a peppercorn a year, or somesuch) and under the proviso that the the land use be retained as public parkland ... if it is not maintained as such then the control of the land reverts back to the original owners and their estates (which now, a few hundred years on would be a nightmare of dividing up prime central city real estate between potentially several hundred related claimants).
The parks are a result of paternalistic (and often maternalistic) gestures which used land transfer legislation to ensure continued public access in perpetuity.
In the initial days of various parks there are stories of a jar or two of uncracked pepper being sent to the head of the family that granted the land, this was somewhat in light hearted humour and also more or less took care of the rent for a few hundred years into the future.
These days there may well be the odd case in which a centenary celebration for a park might well invite a descendent of the family that bestowed a park and "formally" give them a peppergrinder, I can't think of many off hand.
At some point it may be the case that (say) Hyde Park in Perth, Western Australia becomes delinquent in rent and the descendants of the <redacted> family step up and form a class action demanding the return of the Park to themselves by the City of Vincent (or whomever holds the deed at that point).
The City could settle by simply throwing them a sack of peppercorns to squabble over amongst themselves.
The spirit of the lease is a "forever rental" for a sum of something trivial of actual value ( tea, spice, pepper, etc. once were more valuable in English society ) to make it binding but trivial to pay.
The more interesting case would be if a council did something with the land or a portion of the land that was deemed outside the terms of usage ( a private residence for the mayor rather than a groundskeeper's flat, perhaps ) - if public access wasn't restored then there would be a case to claim back half a billion dollars worth of real estate.
That would be the makings of an epic legal shitstorm and drama.