Landscape and the Environment

 

 

Over the last sixty years scholars within the Arts and Humanities have been able to convey to policy-makers and the general public the idea that the landscape and environment are important and worthy of safeguard and appreciation. 

The result has been a raft of legislation specifically designed to ensure the preservation of elements of past landscapes, be they hedgerows or trees, farm buildings or settlement plans.  Across the European Union, local and regional variation are now actively celebrated and protected. 

Landscape is seen as central to the perpetuation of local identities, a vital income stream through the promotion of tourism, and, crucially an essential element in the forging of sustainable futures.

However, in the context of the English landscape, what do we recognize or value of its past?  How and why do we value it?  And are we using the past appropriately to build a sustainable future?

One man’s vision of England’s landscape entered the public consciousness in the mid-twentieth century and has remained there ever since. That man was W.G. Hoskins, the book The Making of the English Landscape, first published in 1955.
 

 
Above picture sourced with permission from the Centre for English Local History

 
Since its publication, the book has rarely been out of print and what he wrote nearly sixty years ago remains essentially the national landscape narrative of today. 

Hoskins’ quiet and elegant prose resonated immediately with his readers, and over the decades can be said to have introduced countless thousands of people to the beauty and significance of the landscape that surrounds us and the time-depth encapsulated in its formation, a landscape which he himself memorably described as the ‘richest historical record we possess’.