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British National Identity and the English Landscape

  • David Lowenthal (a1)


Heritage is a messy concept ill-defined, heterogeneous, changeable, chauvinist – and sometimes absurd. In a TV programmer's words, just as ‘lifestyle has replaced life, heritage is replacing history'. Rather than ‘history’, Philadelphia's tourist boss now ‘talk[s] about heritage – it sounds more lively’. It is also more equivocal; as Walter Benjamin put it, every cultural treasure that is a ‘document of civilization is at the same time a document of barbarism’. Yet for all its ambiguity, ‘the idea of “Heritage” [is] one of the most powerful imaginative complexes of our time’.



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1 Sue Clayton quoted in Gill, Liz, ‘Presenting the past imperfect’, The Times, 4 10 1989, p. 23; Merle Levitz quoted in Higbee, Arthur, ‘American topics’, International Herald Tribune, 21 03, 1990, p. 7.

2 Benjamin, Walter, ‘Theses on the philosophy of history’ (1940), in his Illuminations (New York, 1969), p. 256 (I have slightly altered Harry Zohn's translation); Samuel, Raphael, ‘Preface’, in his (ed.) Patriotism: The Making and Unmaking of British National Identity, Vol. 1, History and Politics (London, 1989), p. xii.

3 Durkheim, Émile, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life: A Study in Religious Sociology (London, 1915), pp. 206–14, 230–32.

4 Thorpe, Benjamin, Northern Mythology, 3 vols. (London, 1851), 1: 12.

5 Plamenatz, John, ‘Two types of nationalism’, in Kamenka, Eugene (ed.), Nationalism: The Nature and Evolution of an Idea (London, 1976), pp. 2236, ref. p. 24. Nationalism became pervasive in nineteenth-century societies and a prime focus of citizens’ loyalties; 20th-century populism aggravated national chauvinism (Gellner, Ernest, ‘Origins of society’, in Fabian, A.C. (ed.), Origins: The Darwin College Lectures (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 128–40; Hobsbawm, E.J., Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge, 1990), p. 88.).

6 Bridges, Robert, ‘The Society's work’ (Tract xxi, 1925), in Bolton, W. F. and Crystal, D. (eds.), The English Language: Essays by Linguists and Men of Letters, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1969), 2: 8699, reference p. 88. See Dodd, Philip, ‘Englishness and the national culture’, in Colls, Robert and Dodd, Philip (eds.), Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880–1920 (London, 1986), pp. 128.

7 SirSherman, Alfred, ex-director Centre for Policy Studies, quoted in Michael Ignatieff, ‘Gluttons for the punishment park’, Observer, 19 08, 1990, p. 9.

8 Waugh, Auberon in Sunday Telegraph, 27 09, 1987. See my ‘Durham: Perils and promises of a heritage’, Durham University Journal, 82 (1989), 185–90.

9 Schofield, Elizabeth quoted in ‘People’, International Herald Tribune, 12 10, 1990, p. 22; Connerton, Paul, How Societies Remember (Cambridge, 1989), p. 87. Entail and primogeniture maintained the landed basis of power and prestige each generation was required to transmit intact, if not augmented, to the next.

10 Connerton, , How Societies Remember, p. 87; Butterfield, Herbert, The Englishman and His History (Cambridge, 1945), p. 100 and The Whig Interpretation of History (London, 1931).

11 Ravitch, Diane, ‘History and the perils of pride’, American Historical Association Perspectives, 03 1991, pp. 1213. On minority heritage generally, see my ‘Conclusion: archaeologists and others’, in Gathercole, Peter and Lowenthal, David (eds.), The Politics of the Past (London, 1990), pp. 302–14.

12 Creighton, Mandell, The English National Character (The Romanes Lecture; London, 1896), pp. 23, 11, 16, 17.

13 [Trevisano, Andrea], A Relation, or Rather a True Account, of the Island of England … about the year 1500 (London: Camden Society (No. 37), 1847), pp. 20–4; Emerson, Ralph Waldo, ‘English Traits’ (1856), in The Portable Emerson (New York, 1946), pp. 353488, ref. p. 425; Orwell, George, The Lion and the Unicorn (1941), in his England Your England and Other Essays (London, 1954), pp. 205–6.

14 ‘Not 1992 and all that’, The Times, 9 04, 1988, p. 9.

15 Murphy, Jim, Henley Centre for Forecasting, quoted in Observer, 10 12, 1989, p. 16. See Broom, Douglas, ‘Call to abandon a sterile debate’, The Times, 11 08, 1989, p. 5; Stethi, Satie, ‘New heritages we should welcome’, The Times, 23 10, 1989, p. 35

16 ‘The test is not about colour, or even loyalty, but integration’, Tebbit glosses his point. ‘If a man chooses to live in one society … but still cheers for and looks for his culture to the society from which he came, he is not integrated’ (letter, Sunday Times, 12 08, 1990).

17 Mettam, Roger, ‘No place for Europe’, Times Literary Supplement, 29 06/5 07, 1990, pp. 694, 702;‘Thatcher changes the course of history’, Observer, 20 08, 1989; ‘Politics in the teaching of history’, The Times, 25 08, 1989, p. 11; Jacques, Martin, ‘Tories launch their biggest takeover bid – for history’, Sunday Times, 1 04, 1990, p. 66; Giles, Tom, ‘MacGregor proposes to increase emphasis on teaching historical facts’, The Times, 27 07, 1990, p. 2; National Curriculum History Working Group Final Report (London, 1990).

18 Peter Rawlinson, quoted in Appleyard, Bryan, ‘Lament for a lost land’, The Times, 8 03, 1989, p. 12; Clark, J.C.D., in Gardiner, Juliet (ed.), The History Debate (London, 1990), p. 42.

19 On Samuel, Northumbria, ‘Preface’, Patriotism, 1: xv; Pike, Luke Owen, The English and Their Origins (1866), quoted in MacDougall, Hugh A., Racial Myth in English History: Trojans, Teutons, and Anglo-Saxons (Hanover, N.H., 1982), p. 91.

20 Defoe, Daniel, ‘The True-Born Englishman: A Satyr’ (1701), in his Selected Writings (Cambridge, 1975), pp. 5181, 11. 183–4, 187–8, 335, 372–3.

21 Collinson, John, The Beauties of British Antiquity (1779), in Jessup, Ronald, comp., Curiosities of British Archaeology, 2nd ed. (Chichester, 1974), p. 186; Rosebery, Lord, ‘The patriotism of the Scot’ (1882), in his Miscellanies: Literary and Historical, 2 vols. (London, 1921), p. 115; Huxley, Julian S., Haddon, A.C. and Carr-Saunders, Alexander, We Europeans: A Survey of ‘Racial’ Problems (London, 1935), pp. 23–4, 277–8; Fowler, Don D., ‘Uses of the past: archaeology in the service of the state’, American Antiquity, 52 (1987), 220–48, ref. pp. 235–7. See also Emerson, , ‘English traits’, pp. 364–5; Hobsbawm, , Nations and Nationalism since 1780, p. 108.

22 McNulty, Robert H., ‘Tourism development and cultural conservation: ways to coordinate heritage with economic development’, in U.S. National Park Service, International Perspectives on Cultural Parks (Washington, D.C., 1988), p. 184.

23 Kearney, Hugh, The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (Cambridge, 1989), p. 3; Shapp, Robin, ‘Lindow person’, New Scientist, 11 06, 1987, p. 68; on the neglect of regional history, Fischer, David Hackett, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford, 1989), pp. 788–9.Hilton, Rodneyascribes the relative absence of provincial identity in England to the rapid assimilation and homogenisation of successive waves of conquerers and migrants (‘Were the English English?’ in Samuel, Patriotism, 1:3943).

24 Wallace, William (Royal Institute of International Affairs), ‘Why the history we are teaching is out of date’, Observer, 22 10, 1989, p. 16; ‘Who we are and what we ought to be’, Guardian, 8 05, 1990, p. 18.

25 Bryce, James, letter, The Times, 21 03, 1887, in Lubbock, John et al. , Mr. Gladstone and the Nationalities of the United Kingdom: A Series of Letters to the ‘Times’ (London, 1887), p. 15; Rosebery, , ‘The patriotism of the Scot’, pp. 111–12. See Boyce, D. G., ‘“The Marginal Britons”: the Irish’, in Colls and Dodd, Englishness, p. 236.

26 Baldwin, Stanley, ‘England’, in his On England and Other Addresses (London, 1926), p. 1; Fowler, H.W., A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), 2nd ed., rev. Ernest Gowers (Oxford, 1965), ‘England, English(man)’. Irish revolt and the Great War made the English uncomfortably aware of the U.K.'s Celtic adjuncts. ‘Englishmen!’ exhorted a Times ad in 1914, ‘Please use ‘Britain’, ‘British’, and ‘Briton’, when the United Kingdom or the Empire is in question – at least during the war’ (quoted in Hanham, H. R., Scottish Nationalism (London, 1969), p. 130). See Cunningham, Hugh, ‘The Conservative Party and patriotism’, in Colls and Dodd, Englishness, pp. 293–4.

27 Pocock, J.G.A., ‘England’, in Ranum, Orest (ed.), National Consciousness, History, and Political Culture in Early-Modern Europe (Baltimore, 1975), p. 100 (Pocock thought this ‘too serious a matter to be left to the English’; see also Pocock's, , ‘British history: a plea for a new subject’, Journal of Modern History, 47 (1975), 601–21); Kearney, , British Isles, p. 213.

28 Mount, Ferdinand, ‘Hypernats and country-lovers’, Spectator, 18 02, 1989, pp. 912; Hechter, Michael, Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development, 1536–1966 (London, 1975); on monuments to lost causes, Home, Donald, The Great Museum: The Re-Presentation of History (London, 1984), pp. 194–6. Nor do Scots or the rest fancy ‘British’. ‘The top-dog English, having bent over backwards to placate the other inhabitants of the islands by always using the term “British”, have now been left in sole and reluctant possession of this much-despised label’ (Bayley, John, ‘Embarrassments of the national past’, Times Literary Supplement, 23 02-1 03, 1990, pp. 187–8).

29 ‘All our yesterdays’, English Heritage Magazine no. 3, 10 1988, p. 3.

30 Creighton, , English National Character, pp. 8, 1415, 18.

31 Marten quoted in Samuel, Raphael, ‘Continuous national history’, in his Patriotism, 1: 12.

32 ‘Introduction’ to Massingham, H.J. (ed.), The Natural Order: Essays in the Return to Husbandry (London, 1945), p. 5.

33 ‘Shakespeare – the History Man’, Times, 18 09, 1989, p.16.

34 Moore, , ‘A Britain fit for dullards’, Daily Telegraph, 3 02, 1990, p. 19. ‘Very much more than a mere acceptance of tradition’, English traditionalism includes ‘interpretation, criticism, rejection, and even fiction’ (Pocock, ‘England’, p. 106).

35 Butterfield, , The Englishman and His History, pp. 114, 116–17. On the mutual antipathies of Englishness and Irishness, see Boyce, , ‘The marginal Britons’, p. 249.

36 Tebbit, , ‘Being British, what it means to me: Time we learned to be insular’, The Field, 272 (05, 1990), 76–8.

37 Darras, Jacques, ‘Should we go on growing roses in Picardy? The future for our cultural heritage in Europe’, Royal Society of Arts Journal, 138 (1990), 524–30, ref. p. 526.

38 Creighton, , English National Character, p. 23; Kohn, Hans, ‘The genesis and character of English nationalism’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 1 (1940), 6994, ref. p. 92.

39 Haller, William, Foxe's Book of Martyrs and the Elect Nation (New York, 1963); Pocock, , ‘England’, pp. 106–9; Hill, Christopher, ‘The English Revolution and patriotism’, in Samuel, Patriotism, 1:159–68; Furtado, Peter, ‘National pride in seventeenth-century England’, in Samuel, Patriotism, 1:4456.

40 Newman, Gerald, The Rise of English Nationalism: A Cultural History 1740–1830 (New York, 1987), p. 143.

41 Ibid., pp. 148, 151, 155–6.

42 Quotations from Cottrell, Stella, ‘The Devil on two sticks: franco-phobia in 1803’, in Samuel, Patriotism, 1: 263. Francophobia took a more conservative tack with the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, but it remained a popular and even a radical cause (Linda Colley, , ‘Radical patriotism in eighteenth-century England’, in Samuel, Patriotism, 1: 169–87).

43 Andrews, John, A Comparative View of the French and English Nations, in their Manners, Politics, and Literature (London, 1785), pp. 442–3.

44 Praeterita: The Autobiography of John Ruskin (1885/89) (Oxford, 1948), p. 192; Baldwin, Stanley, ‘England’ p. 2.

45 Raphael Samuel (‘Exciting to be English’, 1: li) overstates former Arts Minister Lord Gowrie's praise of Stubbs' and Constable's empiricism; see Gowrie, Grey, ‘The twentieth century’, in Piper, David (ed.), The Genius of British Painting (London, 1975), pp. 291336, ref. p. 291.

46 Edward Thomson (1856) quoted in Lockwood, Allison, Passionate Pilgrims: The American Traveler in Great Britain, 1800–1914 (New York, 1981), p. 268; Emerson, , ‘English traits’, pp. 426–8; Gissing, George, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (1903) (New York: Modern Library, n.d.), p. 234.

47 Ousby, Ian, The Englishman's England: Taste, Travel and the Rise of Tourism (Cambridge, 1990), p. 2; ‘Rabbit droppings’, The Times, 10 11, 1990, p. 13.

48 Shippey, Tom, ‘Footpaths’, London Review of Books, 26 07, 1990, p. 14. The adoption of ‘God Save the King’ as Britain's national anthem in 1745 led other states to follow suit, making anthems as symbolically potent as flags (Zelinsky, Wilbur, Nation into State: The Shifting Symbolic Foundations of American Nationalism (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1988), p. 172). See Greaves, William, ‘Happy birthday, Rule Britannia’, The Times, 21 07, 1990. Others find the absence of such symbols shameful. No patriotic imperial name; a ‘peculiarly flat and uninspiring’ national anthem; a little naked St George on gold coins; John Bull ‘as a fat, brutal, early nineteenth-century Midland farmer’; the Union Jack ‘as destitute of beauty as a patchwork quilt’ made Wallas, Graham despair of cultural patriotism (Human Nature in Politics (1908), 3d ed. (Lincoln, Neb., 1962), p. 80).

49 Darras, , ‘Should we go on growing roses in Picardy?’, p. 526.

50 Nairn, Tom, The Break-Up of Britain: Crisis and Neo-Nationalism, 2nd ed. (London, 1981), pp. 270, 291–3.

51 Butterfield, , The Englishman and His History, p. 2; Orwell, , The Lion and the Unicorn, pp. 193–4.

52 Chamberlayne, Edward, Angliae Notitia; or, the Present State of England, 5th edn., 2 vols. (London: 1671), 1:5.

53 Massingham, H.J., The Heritage of Man (London, 1929), p. 294; CPRE's David Conder at the Royal Festival Hall exhibition ‘Legacy’ (Young, John, ‘Legacy of a still green and pleasant land’, The Times, 29 08, 1989).

54 Chesterton, G. K., quoted in ‘Preservation of rural England’, The Times, 30 04, 1931, p. 11.

55 Spender, Stephen, Love-Hate Relations: A Study of Anglo-American Sensibilities (London, 1974), p. 140. On the countryside images of Rupert Brooke, E.V. Lucas, and Siegfried Sassoon, see Howkins, Alun, ‘The discovery of rural England’, in Colls and Dodd, Englishness, pp. 80–1.

56 James, Louis, ‘Landscape in nineteenth-century literature’, in Mingay, G.E. (ed.), The Victorian Countryside, (London, 1981), 1: 150–65; Potts, Alex, ‘“Constable country” between the wars’, in Samuel, Raphael (ed.) Patriotism, Vol. 3, National Fictions (London, 1989), pp. 166–7.

57 Gilpin, William, Observations on the River Wye, and several Parts of South Wales, & c … (1770), 3rd ed. (London, 1792), p. 150. The rambling English villages enjoyed by early nineteenth-century aesthetes were quite unlike the immaculate ones of today; damp thatched cottages, some deliberately dilapidated, equated poverty with rural felicity (Williamson, Tom and Bellamy, Liz, Property and Landscape: A Social History of Landownership and the English Countryside (London, 1987), p. 169). For efforts to rectify such squalor, see Gauldie, Enid, ‘Country homes’, in Mingay, Victorian Countryside, pp. 531–41.

58 ‘Penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos’ (Virgil, Eclogues, i. 66);Vidal, Gore, ‘A new world on prime-time television’, Observer, 31 12, 1989.

59 Auden, W.H., ‘O Love, the interest itself in thoughtless Heaven’ (1932), in his Selected Poems (London, 1979), pp. 25–6; Kermode, Frank, History and Value (Oxford, 1989), pp. 75–6. On England as a garden, see Mulvey, Christopher, Anglo-American Landscapes: A Study of Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Travel Literature (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 126–7.

60 Tebbit, , ‘Being British’, pp. 76–8. ‘Britain is no longer an island’ screamed the Sunday Times' front-page headline on the Channel Tunnel breakthrough (2 December, 1990).

61 Buckle, Henry Thomas, History of Civilization in England (1857), rev. ed., 3 vols. (London, 1873), 1: 232–5.

62 Nadal, E. S., Impressions of London Social Life with Other Papers … (London, 1875), p. 172; Lord Denning, interview in Wilson, A.N., ‘England, his England’, Spectator, 18 08, 1990, pp. 810. Atavistic Anglo-Saxonism has since surfaced. ‘If someone is of foreign origin, he is unlikely to have the same feeling for our history and institutions as we have’, writes a London editor. ‘When it comes to their abandonment, it follows that Sir Leon's views - and that of others of foreign origin … should be appropriately discounted’ (Daily Mail editor Andrew Alexander, quoted in Chancellor, Alexander, ‘Diary’, Spectator, 1 09, 1990, p. 6). My own views were dismissed when I decried the impending auction of the Codrington Papers, an archival legacy of West Indian islanders whose own ancestors had been sold on the auction block (‘West Indies archive for sale’, The Times, 29 11, 1980); respondents saw plantation papers as a genealogical game preserve and me as the poacher. ‘I gather from your name’, wrote one titled lady, ‘that your family has not been in England very long. When you have been here as many generations as the Codringtons you might have the right to say something.’

63 Walter, François, ‘Attitudes toward the environment in Switzerland, 1880–1914’, Journal of Historical Geography, 15 (1989), 279–99; Nash, Roderick, Wilderness and the American Mind (New Haven, Conn., 1967); Williams, Ralph Vaughan, ‘What have we learnt from Elgar?Music and Letters, 16 (1935), 1319, quotation on p. 16; Emerson, , ‘English traits’, p. 353. The English landscape – misty, green, moist, rich – is similarly said to pervade Vaughan Williams's music (Foss, Herbert, Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Study (London, 1950), p. 66). See Crump, Jeremy, ‘The identity of English music: the reception of Elgar 1898–1935’, in Colls and Dodd, Englishness, p. 181. On national and other landscape tastes, see my ‘Finding valued landscapes’, Progress in Human Geography, 2 (1978), 375418.

64 Quiller-Couch, Arthur, ‘Patriotism in literature I’, Studies in Literature (Cambridge, 1918), pp. 290306, ref. pp. 301, 306; Read, Herbert, ‘Introduction’ in his The English Vision: An Anthology (London, 1933), p. x; see Potts, , ‘Constable country’, p. 175. But such Englishness was open only to a few elite Celts (Hechter, , Internal Colonialism, p. 343).

65 Tebbit, , ‘Being British’, p. 78; Hastings, Max, ‘Diary’, Spectator, 3 11, 1990, p. 7.

66 Young, John, ‘Move to ban hunting on Trust land’, The Times, 18 08, 1990, p. 12; National Trust Annual General Meeting 1990 notice, pp. 1314; McCarty, Michael, ‘Trust faces internal strife after vote to ban deer hunting’, The Times, 5 11, 1990, p. 3; idem, ‘National Trust sets aside hunt ban vote’, The Times, 14 12, 1990; letters, The Times, 6, 11, 12 November, 13, 24 December 1990. For the background, see Williamson, and Bellamy, , Property and Landscape, pp. 201–5, 219.

67 Ridley, Nicholas, in The Future of the Public Heritage, Cubiti Trust Panel conference 15 October, 1986 (London, 1987), p. 92.

68 Thompson, F.M.L., English Landed Society in the Nineteenth Century (London, 1963), ch. 7; and ‘Landowners and the rural community’, in Mingay, G.E. (ed.), The Unquiet Countryside (London, 1989), pp. 8098; Moore, D.C., ‘The landed aristocracy’ and ‘The gentry’, in Mingay (ed.), Victorian Countryside, 2: 367–98; Newby, Howard, Country Life: A Social History of Rural England (London, 1987), pp. 56–8.

69 Seward, Anna to Johnson, J., 20 September, 1794, Letters of Anna Seward, written between the years 1784 and 1807, 6 vols, 3rd ed. (Edinburgh, 1811), 4: 1011; Abraham, and Driver, William, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Hants, with Observations on the Means of its Improvement (London, 1794), p. 10. For other encomia of order, Barrell, John, The Idea of Landscape and the Sense of Place 1730–1840: An Approach to the Poetry of John Clare (Cambridge, 1972), pp. 94–5; Williamson, and Bellamy, , Property and Landscape, p. 154; Thomas, Keith, Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England, 1500–1800 (London, 1983), pp. 254–7.

70 William Beach Thomas (1938), quoted in Chase, Malcolm, ‘This is no claptrap: this is our heritage’, in Shaw, Christopher and Chase, Malcolm (eds.), The Imagined Past: History and Nostalgia (Manchester, 1989), pp. 128–46, ref. p. 138; Lees-Milne, James, Caves of Ice (London, 1983), diary entry 16 June, 1947, p. 172. ‘Whatever we feel as to the desirability of reducing the inequality of fortune between man and man, we must realise that we have to pay a heavy price in natural beauty for a more democratic ideal’ (Gardner, Arthur, Britain's Mountain Heritage and its Preservation as National Parks (London, 1942), pp. 12).

71 Weldon, Fay, ‘Letter to Laura’, in Mabey, Richard (ed.), Second Nature (London, 1984), p. 68; James, Henry, ‘Old Suffolk’ (1897), in his English Hours (New York, 1960), p. 196. Attitudes about such links vary. ‘Old associations are sure to be frequent herbs in English nostrils’, wrote Hawthorne; Americans ‘pull them up as weeds’ (‘Leamington Spa’ (1862), Our Old Home, in The Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Centennial, ed. (Ohio State University Press, 19621980), 5:51).

72 MacVeagh, Diana, Edward Elgar: His Life and Music (London, 1955), p. 166; on the campo santo, Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Our Hundred Days in Europe (London, 1887), p. 279; Emerson, , ‘English traits’, p. 356.

73 ‘Memory lane’, The Times, 4 10 1989, p. 3; Thomas, , Man and the Natural World, pp. 217–23. This is not to gainsay British fascination with the geological and palaeontological heritage. See Allen, David Elliston, The Naturalist in Britain: A Social History (London, 1976); Bowler, Peter J., The Invention of Progress: The Victorians and the Past (Oxford, 1989); Ousby, , Englishman's England, pp. 130–43; Thomas, , Man and the Natural World, pp. 269–71, 280–4.Foulke, Robert, ‘A conversation with John Fowles’, Salmagundi, nos. 68–9 (1986), 367–84, privileges natural over human history.

74 Chippindale, Christopher et al. , Who Owns Stonehenge? (London, 1990).

75 Blythe, Ronald, ‘The dangerous idyll’, in his From the Headlands (London, 1982), p. 161. Weekend commuters ‘change their clothes … when they get down to the country; join appeals and campaigns to keep one last bit of England green and unspoilt; and then go back, spiritually refreshed, to invest in the smoke and the spoil’ (Williams, Raymond, ‘Ideas of nature’ (1971), in his Problems in Materialism and Culture (London, 1980), p. 81).

76 Springett, V.P., letter, ‘Recollections of a golden past’, The Times, 11 03, 1989, p. 11; Hall, and Ashbrook, , ‘“Nether Burton” revisited‘, International Herald Tribune, 26 07, 1990.

77 Yoder, Edwin M. Jr, ‘In praise of Baron Omnium and his old English village’, International Herald Tribune, 20 07, 1990. Yoder's idyll has old American antecedents. English relics and place-names evoked ‘deep-rooted sympathies; … a suppositious pedigree, a silver mug, [were] potent enough to turn the brain of many an honest republican’ (Hawthorne, Nathaniel, ‘Consular experiences’ (1863), Works, 5: 1920). Americans steeped in Shakespeare and Tennyson preempted English heritage as their ancestral own, and in England enjoyed aristocratic privilege anathema in America; delighted by ‘contented’ English domestics, a Yankee parson who never spoke of ‘servants’ at home saw ‘no harm in it where it is customary, especially as [it is] abundantly sanctioned in the Scriptures’ (Heman Humphrey (1838), quoted in Lockwood, Passionate Pilgrims, p. 137; see p. 448). The Great House crowned the English landscape, preserving not only the visual heritage and owners' wealth but ‘an ancient and honourable pattern of human relationships’ – notably those of master and servant – ‘lost to the modern, democratic, and American order of things’ (Mulvey, , Anglo-American Landscapes, p. 127). ‘The well-appointed, well-administered, well-filled country house [is] the most perfect, the most characteristic … of all the great things the English have invented and made part of the national character’, but Henry James set against these glories the grim workhouse and orphanage idiots he saw the same day (‘An English New Year’ (1879), English Hours, pp. 170–1).

It was the ‘latent preparedness of the American mind’ for the English scene that made James' devotion ‘total and sacred’ (‘A Passionate Pilgrim’ (1875), in The Reverberator and Other Stories (London, 1909), p. 335). Indeed, only an American could truly savour historic England; so oblivious to hoary antiquity seemed England's natives that Hawthorne suggested they all be removed ‘to some convenient wilderness in the Great West’ and replaced by Americans (‘Leamington Spa’ (1862), Works, 5: 64). But the ‘phlegmatic’ English response to their heritage concealed strong attachments; natives, after all, could not pass the whole of life in tourist euphoria (Mulvey, , Anglo-American Landscapes, p. 62).

78 Hall and Ashbrook, ‘“Nether Burton” revisited’. Hall heads the Ramblers' Association, Ashbrook the Open Spaces Society. Their past is also mythical: old-time Turville was anything but peaceful to runaway serfs hunted by Chiltern Hundred stewards and to stagecoach passengers held up by highwaymen.

79 Williams, , ‘Ideas of nature’, p. 80 and The Country and the City (London, 1973), pp. 74–9. The miseries of dispossession limned in Goldsmith's ‘The Deserted Village’ (1770) were quite real; the unsightly villagers of ‘Auburn’ were tidied away from Earl Harcourt's landscape at Nuneham Courtenay, Oxfordshire. See Coones, Paul and Patten, John, The Penguin Guide to the Landscape of England and Wales (Harmondsworth, 1986), pp. 247–8; Barrell, John, ‘The golden age of labour’, in Mabey, Second Nature, pp. 177–95; Newby, , Country Life, pp. 7891; Williamson, and Bellamy, , Property and Landscape, pp. 137–8.

80 Morris, Jan, ‘Barchester lives on’, in Blythe, Ronald, Places: An Anthology of Britain (Oxford, 1981), p. 146; Gammon, Reg, ‘Our country, all earthly things above, as always’, The Field, 272 (05 1990), 82–3 (also his One Man's Furrow: Ninety Years of Country Living (Exeter, 1990), p. 176).

81 Heseltine, Michael, ‘Is it at risk, this England?The Field, 272 (05 1990), 78–9.

82 Howard Newby, ‘Revitalizing the countryside: the opportunities and pitfalls of counter-urban trends’, and Puttnam, David, ‘Myths of the countryside: obstacles to progress or bastions of defence?’, Royal Society of Arts Journal, 138 (1990), 630–6 and 625–9. On the harm to rural society caused by blind faith in its enduring stability, see Newby, , Country Life, pp. 219–24; Chase, , ‘Claptrap and heritage’, p. 133.

83 Baldwin, Stanley, ‘The Classics’ (1926), in his On England, p. 101; see Smith, Dennis, ‘Englishness and the liberal inheritance after 1886’, in Colls and Dodd, Englishness, p. 264.

84 Greig, Geordie, ‘Which Cheddar Gorge do you like best?Sunday Times, 7 02, 1988. Nineteenth-century New World visitors praised Britain as ‘the only country in the world that is all finished, … the rubbish picked up, … no odds and ends lying around’, ‘the whole country look[ing] … swept and dusted that morning’ (Lockwood, Passionate Pilgrims, p. 444). America's premier landscape gardener was struck both by the ‘clean and careful cultivation and general tidiness of agriculture’ and the order even of English trees, ‘as if the face of each leaf was more nearly parallel with all the others near it, and as if all were more equally lighted than in our foliage’ (Olmsted, Frederick Law, Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England (1859) (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1967), pp. 228–9).

85 Praising the hedging and ditching, the parks and gardens still cared for as a matter of course, Williams deplored ‘the urban blindness to all this work that actually produces and preserves much of the “nature” that visitors come to see’; there would be ‘too much [wilderness] for most tastes if this kind of tending stopped’ (‘Between country and city’, in Mabey, Second Nature, p. 218).

86 Ascherson, , ‘The land belongs to the people’, Observer, 25 01, 1987, p.9.

87 Brooke, Michael, ‘A day in the country’, New Scientist, 7 04, 1990, p. 68; Crowe, Sylvia, Tomorrow's Landscape (London, 1956), p. 137.

88 Mabey, Richard, ‘Strange vision of a promised land’, Observer, 1 02, 1987, p. 26.

89 Henry VII, in Heylyn, Peter, Cosmographie in Foure Bookes, Contayning the Geographie and Historie of the Whole World … (London, 1652), Bk I, p. 263; Newby, , ‘Revitalizing the countryside’, p. 631; 1983 European Community figures in Shoard, Marion, This Land Is Our Land (London, 1987), pp. 144–5; Fedden, Robin, The National Trust: Past and Present, rev. ed. (London, 1974), p. 98. Fedden's view is widely shared. Against his own bias, H.E. Bates acclaims the great landowners. ‘I doubt if the poor have ever beautified the English landscape. It is the rich and the prosperous who have left on it the hall-marks of beauty’ (‘The hedge chequer work’, in Massingham, H.J. (ed.), The English Countryside: A Survey of its Chief Features, 3d ed. (London, 1951), p. 50). A dissenting view contrasts the ‘peasants’ country' of South Germany, the Touraine, the Midi, with typical English ‘landlords’ country' – ‘the open woods, the large grass fields and wide hedges, the ample demesnes which signify a country given up less to industry than to opulence and dignified ease; … sparsely cultivated, but convenient for hunting and shooting’ (Masterman, C.F.G., The Condition of England (London, 1909), pp. 201–2).

90 Coleridge, Nicholas, ‘Why the Lords love the lady’, Spectator, 22 09, 1988, pp. 911; Lord St John of Fawsley, quoted in Alderson, Andrew, ‘Study of aristocratic decline makes the blue-bloods see red’, Sunday Times, 2 09, 1990, 1.7.Cannadine, David, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (London, 1990), traces the elite's dwindling political power; Shoard, , This Land Is Our Land, pp. 127–43, and Paxman, Jeremy, Friends in High Places: Who Runs Britain? (London, 1990), pp. 3946, document continuing elite control of land and social institutions.

91 ‘A guide through the district of the Lakes’ (5th ed., 1835) and ‘Kendal and Windermere Railway’ (1844), The Prose Works of William Wordsworth, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1974), 2: 225, 3: 346, 355.

92 Joad, C.E.M., The Untutored Townsman's Invasion of the Countryside (London, 1946), pp. 219, 80. Today's townsmen ‘play football on a hay field; pick our fruit; run their dogs off the lead and let them chase stock; they sunbathe, picnic and copulate in the fields; they scatter rubbish and … leave gates open’ (‘The rights and wrongs of way’, letter, Observer, 9 September, 1990, p. 44). On elitist assumptions, see Keith, W.J., The Rural Tradition: A Study of Non-Fiction Prose Writers of the English Countryside (Toronto, 1974), p. 11; Thomas, , Man and the Natural World, p. 267; Ousby, , Englishman's England, pp. 189–92.

93 Nicholas Ridley at Historic Houses Association, 22 November, 1988; Fletcher, Martin, ‘Sell stately homes to nouveaux riches, says Ridley’, The Times, 23 09, 1988, p. 1; Binney, Marcus, ‘Mr Ridley's bad house-keeping’, The Times, 24 09, 1988; Saye, Lord and Sele, , in Sally Brompton, ‘Family castle not for sale’, The Times, 17 12, 1988. The custodial sentiment is an old cliché: Charles Trevelyan ‘considered Wallington not so much owned by him as entrusted to him by inheritance for the benefit of the public’ (Drury, Martin, ‘The early houses of the country houses scheme’, National Trust Magazine, no. 52, Autumn 1987, p. 33).

94 ‘Can you call yourself “a common man” when you have a coat of arms and a crest “on a chapeau gules turned up ermine a dexter glove argent grasping a scroll fesswise proper”? Maybe in this extraordinary country you can’, though Lord Denning seemed to disqualify himself not only in accepting a peerage but in proposing to exclude ‘the common man’ from juries (Chancellor, Alexander, ‘Diary’, Spectator, 25 08, 1990, p. 6).

95 Brompton, ‘Family castle not for sale’; Lady Saye and Sele, in Lycett, Andrew, ‘Saved in the last reel’, The Times, 13 08, 1990, p. 16; Robinson, John Martin, ‘Holding the fort for 50 years: the National Trust's country house scheme’, Spectator, 18 04, 1987, pp. 35–6.

96 Emerson, , ‘English traits’, p. 484; Saunders, Kate, ‘Modern manors’, Sunday Times, 26 08, 1990, 5.1. Unlike country-house hotels, ‘real English country houses have an essential shabbiness … They have draughts and mouseholes and untuned pianos and mangy old dogs’ (Arnold, Sue, ‘Country kitsch by the yard’, Observer, 27 01, 1990, p. 51).

The National Trust concedes past indignities (Tinniswoode, Adrian, A History of Country House Visiting: Five Centuries of Tourism and Taste (Oxford, 1989), ch. 5), but it heeds complaints by today's visitors less than complaints about them; aristocratic tenants find them ‘frightfully inconvenient’ (Trust chairman Jennifer Jenkins, quoted in Grove, Valerie, ‘Keeping Britain's earls and toads in [Germolene] pink’, Sunday Times, 19 06, 1988, B4). Amid ‘pangs of sadness that although we were still going to live here it wasn't ours any more’, Lord Scarsdale of Kedleston Hall thought himself typical in wanting ‘to be treated a little more respectfully, consulted more often by the National Trust’ (quoted in Gilheany, James, ‘Trust our heritage’, The Times Saturday Review, 29 12, 1990, p. 28). See Wright, Patrick, ‘Brideshead and the tower blocks’, London Review of Books, 2 06, 1988, pp. 37.

97 Sarah Lonsdale and Michael Prestage, ‘National Trust gems closed to the public’, and Darley, Gillian, ‘It's open season on the Trust’, Observer, 28 10, 1990, pp. 4 and 20; Rodney, Legg, quoted in Jenkins, Lin, ‘National Trust rejects an open and shut case’, The Times, 23 10, 1990, pp. 1, 22.

98 Dennis, Nigel, Cards of Identity (1955) (London, 1974), p. 119; Billig, Michael, ‘Collective memory, ideology and the British Royal family’, in Middleton, David and Edwards, Derek (eds.), Collective Remembering (London, 1990), pp. 6080; Ousby, , Englishman's England, p. 60. Raphael Samuel notes that the newly populist and democratic heritage, despite radical and egalitarian roots, ‘feeds on a nostalgia for visible social differences. “The World We Have Lost” was one where people knew where they stood, where classes were classes, localities localities’ and the British an indigenous people, ‘Exciting to be English’, Patriotism, 1: xliv).

99 Levi, Peter, ‘Knowing a place’, in Mabey, Second Nature, p.41.

100 Nicolson, Adam, ‘Tidiness and the Trust’, National Trust Magazine, no. 58 (Autumn 1989), pp. 37–9; Piper, John, ‘Pleasing decay’, in his Buildings and Prospects (London, 1948), pp. 89116.Prince, Hughand I treat love of order in ‘English landscape tastes’, Geographical Review, 55 (1965), 186222. John Bayley sees order as British, not English; today ‘Englishness’ conjures up sturdy folk liberties and radical protest, while ‘Britishness has come to represent law and order and the orthodoxy of established power’ (‘Embarrassments of the national past’, p. 188).

101 ‘The Learned Boy’ (1812), Poetical Works of George Crabbe (London, 1908), p. 334; Gissing, , Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, pp. 214–17; ‘Heaven's order’ is in Pope's Essay on Man.

102 ‘The common image of the country is now an image of the past’ (Williams, , The Country and the City, p. 297). See Wiener, Martin J., English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850–1980 (Cambridge, 1981). On how the emptiness of the English countryside has affected the ruralist mystique, see Lucas, John, Modern English Poetry from Hardy to Hughes (London, 1986), pp. 5069; idem, England and Englishness: Ideas of Nationhood in English Poetry 1688–1900 (London, 1990), p. 204.

103 Masterman, , Condition of England, pp. 208, 204.

104 Haseler, Stephen, ‘How a nation has slipped into its dotage’, Sunday Times, 25 02, 1990, p. C6; Hoggart, Simon, ‘Thinking of Englandland’, Observer Supplement, 12 08, 1990, p. 5.

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Rural History
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