The Plympton Pathfields are part of an ancient trackway which ran from Plympton Hill down Longbrook Street, through Sugar Lane on the west side of St. Maurice Church and up to the Ridgeway. The 11 plus acres of land are adjacent to the ancient conservation area of Plympton St. Maurice. In times past, the land was used by defensive Anglo Saxons. It was later the home to the troops of Prince Rupert, who camped out beneath the castle walls when Plymouth was under siege. St. Maurice was also a very important harbour until the silting from the local tin industry forced ships to moor further down stream in Sutton (now the city of Plymouth). In the 12th century the Earls of Devon established Plympton Castle and laid out the roads of the borough of Plympton St. Maurice. The fields which had belonged to the old Saxon Manor were claimed as pastures for the animals owned by the Norman Lords. The Old Manor House stood on the site of the present Plympton House which was built for the Lord Chief Justice of England in the early years of the 18th Century and can be seen from the Pathfields. For many many centuries, Plympton and the town of St. Maurice have had strong historical links. Many notables, Sir Christopher Wren, Sir Joshua Reynolds, the Treby family and the Heles brought development to the area - but they always left the surrounding fields as an open space setting.
To commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, a row of lime trees were planted by John Andrews who lived at Ridgeway Lodge where Pocklington Rise now stands. The Pathfields has been used for centuries by the people of Plympton St. Maurice, and after part of it came into the ownership of Plymouth City Council, it was designated a public open space.
To commemorate Queen Elizebeth's II Golden Jubilee an avenue of limes was planted in Pathfields west.
The Civic Association has an active partnership with the City of Plymouth, the National Trust, English Heritage and others. Funds raised by Plympton Pathfields Preservation Group, as part of their campaign to limit building on this greenspace, have made it possible for an active management program to be in place.
Some years ago a planning application on similar grazing lands south of the town was turned down on appeal following a Public Inquiry, the Inspector commenting on it's "historical value in the setting of the conservation area".
A small area of Plympton Pathfields has already been 'sensitively developed' and is now managed both as a conservation and public amenity area. This method of management lets the community of Plympton enjoy the greater use of part of the Pathfields whilst conserving its valuable wildlife. Centuries old Devon hedgerows and mature trees provide the homes to many birds and other wildlife. In 1991 one hedgerow was extended along with the planting of a new copse of mixed trees and shrubs in order to extend the habitat of some of that wildlife. The grassland is managed as a traditional meadow and mowed only twice a year. The range of wild flowers is increasing annually and by this method of management the area will eventually host a much wider range of beautiful and interesting wild flowers. The area is an oasis in the midst of a growing suburb.