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Landscape Preservation, ‘advertising disfigurement’, and English National Identity c. 1890–1914

  • Paul Readman (a1)

In the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, anxieties developed about the impact of advertisements on the English landscape. Large posters and hoardings in rural areas were increasingly seen as having a damaging effect on the scenic beauties of the country, and a campaign to have their use restricted was started up in the 1890s. This article focuses on that campaign, and on the activities and ideology of the organisation (the National Society for Checking the Abuses of Public Advertising — SCAPA) which spearheaded it. In doing so, it seeks to engage with the wider historiographical debate about the nature of ‘Englishness’ in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Through an examination of the agenda of SCAPA and other preservationist bodies (such as the National Trust), it suggests that it is misleading to conclude that English culture in this period was pervaded by backward-looking ‘rural-nostalgic’ obsessions. However, it also emphasises that English national identity was nonetheless to an important extent related to ideas about land and landscape. It does not do to write off phenomena like opposition to the ‘disfigurement’ of picturesque English scenery as insignificant, the concern only of a very marginal section of elite culture.

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1. Wiener, Martin J., English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit 1850–1980 (Cambridge, 1981).

2. ibid., Wiener, Martin J., English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit 1850–1980 (Cambridge, 1981). esp. pp. 5053. Although Wiener was prepared to admit the existence of an alternative myth based on the peasant and his cottage, he evidently felt that this ‘feudal’ version was by far the most important. The country squire was ‘lovingly portrayed as the central figure of rustic life … His class, above all others, was the one that had given England its character’ (p. 50).

3. Most recently by Rubinstein, W. D., Capitalism, Culture and Decline in Britain, 1750–1990 (London, 1993)Edgerton, David, Science, Technology and the British Industrial ‘decline’, 1870–1970 (Cambridge, 1996).

4. See, for example, Colls, Robert and Dodd, Philip, eds., Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880–1920 (London, 1986); Shaw, Christopher and Chase, Malcolm, eds., The Imagined Past: History and Nostalgia (Manchester, c. 1989); Boyes, Georgina, The Imagined Village: Culture, Ideology and the English Folk Revival (Manchester, 1993); Bennett, Gillian, ‘Folklore Studies and the English Rural Myth’, Rural History, 4 (1993), 7791; Daniels, Stephen, Fields of Vision: Landscape Imagery and National Identity in England and the United States (Cambridge, 1994); Bunce, Michael, The Countryside Ideal: Anglo-American Images of Landscape (London, 1994).

5. Bunce, , Countryside Ideal, pp. 21, 55.

6. ‘Against “Englishness”: English Culture and the Limits to Rural Nostalgia, 1850–1940’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th series, 7 (1997), 155–75.

7. ibid., 160.

8. ibid., 167–8.

9. ibid., 169.

10. ibid., 170. And see also Mandler's, comments in his The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home (New Haven, 1997), p. 172.

11. See Bennett, ‘Folklore Studies’, 84. The Times alone devoted approximately twelve columns to the Congress, and made it the subject of two leading articles. One might also point to the publicity accorded Cecil Sharp and Mary Neal's dispute over Morris dancing techniques, fought out in 1910 in the pages of the Morning Post and beyond.

12. Stradling, Robert and Hughes, Merion, The English Musical Renaissance 1860–1940 (London, 1993), esp. pp. 6065.

13. Suggestions for the Consideration of Teachers and Others Concerned in the Work of Public Elementary Schools (1905), cited in Karpeles, Maud, Cecil Sharp: His Life and Work (London, 1967), p. 59.

14. Neither, moreover, were its leaders cultural outcasts. The folksong collector Cecil Sharp was, for example, music tutor to three of the Royal family's children between 1904 and 1907 (see Karpeles, Cecil Sharp, pp. 56–7).

15. Jenkins, Jennifer and James, Patrick, From Acorn to Oak Tree: The Growth of the National Trust 1895–1994 (London, 1994), p. 337.

16. Ranlett, John, ‘“Checking nature's desecration”: Late-Victorian Environmental Organizations’, Victorian Studies, 26 (1983), 219–20.

17. It is often overlooked that the initial concern of the National Trust was primarily the protection not of ancestral homes or buildings generally, but of beautiful scenery and landscape features. In this sense its founding principles were less those of the SPAB than the CPS, with whom it had much closer links.

18. The Times was a particularly strong supporter, regularly reporting CPS and National Trust meetings and frequently drawing attention to the threatened enclosure of common land, as it did before the opening of Parliament in 1885 by pointing out a number of bills which endangered the ‘open land of the country’. (See Times, 25th February, p. 4). Especially trenchant was the newspaper's defence of the New Forest, part of which the War Office sought to have enclosed for use as an army rifle range in 1892. (See esp. Times, 15th February, p. 9; 19th February, p. 9; 13th June, p. 8).

19. Eversley, Lord [George Shaw Lefevre], Commons, Forests and Footpaths (rev. ed., London, 1910), passim. Under the Statute of Merton (1235), Lords of Manors had the power, without recourse to Parliament, to enclose wastes over which the rights of commoners had lapsed through misuse.

20. Bonham-Carter, Victor, The Survival of the English Countryside (London, 1971), p. 108.

21. See Eversley, Commons, pp. 264–7.

22. Parliamentary Debates, 3rd ser., 310, cc. 1728–48 and 311, cc. 145–53, 440–54. The bill only just got through its second reading, and a week later it was emasculated by a hostile motion, which was easily passed by 231 votes to 133.

23. C. E. Schwann (ibid., 311, c. 447). Speaking in support of James Bryce's motion of 21st February - which effectively killed the bill – the Conservative MP for Wigan observed how those who represented working class constituencies had voted against the measure.

24. James Bryce (ibid., 310, cc. 1728–36); H. H. Howorth (ibid., 310, cc. 1736–7); G. J. Shaw Lefevre (ibid., 311, cc. 448–51).

25. Lefevre, George Shaw, one of the founders of the CPS, certainly saw it as a significant symbolic gesture (see Eversley, Commons, p. 109).

26. Murphy, Graham, Founders of the National Trust (London, 1987), pp. 116–19.

27. Prochaska, Frank, Royal Bounty: The Making of a Welfare Monarchy (New Haven, 1995), p. 116.

28. On this see Cannadine, David, ‘The Context, Performance and Meaning of Ritual: The British Monarchy and the “invention of tradition”, c. 1820–1977’, in Hobsbawm, Eric and Ranger, Terence, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 101–64.

29. For the activities of the Committee see Eversley, Commons, pp. 326–7 and also Legg, Rodney, National Trust Centenary: Common Roots of 1895 (Wincanton, 1994), p. 19.That 1897 was explicitly designed as a festival of consensus is well brought out in Hammerton, Elizabeth and David Cannadine, ‘Conflict and Consensus on a Ceremonial Occasion: The Diamond Jubilee in Cambridge in 1897’, Historical Journal, 24 (1981), 111–46.

30. The idea that folksong collection was ‘an exercise in cultural expropriation’, a form of bourgeois social engineering, or both, has been particularly popular (see Harker, David, ‘May Cecil Sharp be Praised?’, History Workshop Journal, 14 (1982), 4462Boyes, , Imagined Village, Ian, Watson, Song and Democratic Culture in Britain: An Approach to Popular Culture in Social Movements (London, 1983), pp. 31–3).

31. Nevett, T. R., Advertising in Britain: A History (London, 1982), p. 117. In the light of the fact that much of the funding for this book came from large firms and advertising agencies, Nevett's opinion of SCAPA is unsurprising.

32. A year and a half after its formation, membership of SCAPA was 730 (A Beautiful World, 3 (June 1894), 121). Though exact figures are lacking, it is unlikely that it much exceeded 1,000 before 1914. But that influential rather than mass support was sought is clear from a 1901 petition presented to the government urging legislation for the regulation of advertisements. Appended to the list of 150 names was a note explaining that ‘the idea was not to obtain numerous Signatories, but a limited number of names representative of various great national interests’. This aim would seem to have been successful, as the list included the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Mayor of London, 24 MPs, various peers, numerous prominent academics, writers and artists (amongst them Frederick Pollock, Charles Booth and the President of the Royal Academy), H.M. Inspector of Schools, the Directors of the Natural History and British Museums, the Lord Justice of Appeal, and the Vice-Chancellors of Oxford and Cambridge. (See A Beautiful World, 9 (1900–3), 21–3. The original circular (with signatures) is preserved in the London Metropolitan Archives, A/SCA/IV/3.)

33. Woburn Advertiser, 8th May 1898 (coll. SCAPA press cuttings, Lon. Met. Arch., A/SCA/VI/1/1.)

34. Evans, Richardson, An Account of the SCAPA Society (London, 1926), p. 55. For a typical example of such support see ‘The Desecration of Scenery’, Spectator, August 1900, pp. 202–3. As with other preservationist bodies, The Times was a particularly reliable ally. Between 1890 and 1905 the newspaper published at least 30 letters by Richardson Evans alone. As he himself explained in one of them, that ‘I have become a habitual trespasser upon your space … is because your kindness has sympathetically condoned the offence’ (Times, 26th January 1904, p. 5).

35. Avertisements Regulation Bill, 1907 (7 Edw. 7.; bill 81) [italics added].

36. For the debate over the Bill (which passed its 3rd reading in the Commons by 207 votes to 12), see Parliamentary Debates, 4th ser., 176, cc. 11–32.

37. Nevett, Advertising, p. 118.

38. Letter of E. D. Till to Richardson Evans, 9th November 1909 (Lon. Met. Arch., A/SCA/111/3.) Despite the apparent illegality of these actions, the firms affected did not seek redress in the Courts.

39. As the Austrian playwright and social commentator Karl Kraus asked in 1904: Is there life beyond the posters? When a train takes us outside the city, we do see a green meadow - but this green meadow is only a poster which that lubricant manufacturer has concocted in league with nature in order to pay his respects to us in the country as well (‘The World of Posters’, in Zohn, Harry, ed., In these great times: A Karl Kraus Reader (Manchester, 1984), p. 45).

40. Peters, Carl [karl], England and the English (London, 1904), p. 120.

41. Times, 18th November, 1892, p. 10. A Times editorial six days later agreed with the architect (ibid., Times, 24th November, pp. 9–10). For details of SCAPA's formation, see Evans, SCAPA, p. 47.

42. Lecky, W. E. H. et at., ‘The Advertisement Nuisance’, New Review, 9 (November 1893), 466–81.

43. ibid., Lecky, W. E. H. et at., ‘The Advertisement Nuisance’, New Review, 9 (November 1893), 474.

44. Although we must be careful not to postulate too sharp a dichotomy between ‘town’ and ‘country’. As we shall see, the Dover case in 1901 demonstrated that ‘English scenery’ did not necessarily stop where towns began. An appreciation of this fact was demonstrated in later bills of 1905 and 1906, and also in the 1907 Act, which gave regulatory powers both to county and borough authorities.

45. For Blanche Elliott, SCAPA was set up in response to fears that the 1889 Indecent Advertisement Act had not done enough to discourage impropriety in posters. (See Elliott, Blanche B., A History of British Advertising (London, 1962), p. 165).

46. Letter of Evans to Howard, 7th October 1903 (Lon. Met. Arch., A/SCA/III/9/5.)

47. Times, 23rd November 1892, p. 14.

48. Hunter, Robert, ‘Places of Interest and Things of Beauty’, Nineteenth Century, 43 (April 1898), 570–89Hill, Octavia, ‘Natural Beauty as a National Asset’, Nineteenth Century and After, 58 (December 1905), 935–41. See alsoRawnsley, H. D., ‘The National Trust: Its Work and Needs’, Nature Notes, 1 (September 1896), 190–91 Eversley, Commons, pp. 323–5.

49. See Ranlett, ‘“Checking nature's desecration’”.

50. Peacock, Alfred J., ‘Land Reform 1880–1919: A Study of the Activities of the English Land Restoration Leagues and the Land Nationalisation Society’ (Unpublished M.A. dissertation, Southampton University, 1961). And cf Hunter, ‘Places of interest’, pp. 570, 589.

51. Evans, Richardson, The Age of Disfigurement (London, 1893), p. 95.

52. The Rural Advertisements Bill [Beautiful World leaflets 1, 1st February 1895], 2–3 (Lon. Met. Arch., A/SCA/V/3/1.)

53. ibid., pp. 37–8.

54. A Beautiful World, 10 (September 1909), 27.

55. Hill, , ‘Natural beauty], 936. See also her, ‘Colour, Space and Music for the People’, Nineteenth Century, 15 (May 1884), 741–52 and seeEvans, Richardson, ‘Advertising as a Trespass on the Public’, Nineteenth Century, 37 (June 1895), 969–70.

56. Evans, SCAPA, p. 219.

57. Evans, Age of Disfigurement, p. 75 [italics added].

58. ibid..

59. Evans, , ‘Advertising Disfigurement’, Westminster Review, 151 (March 1899), 253. See also Age of Disfigurement, p. 80 Lecky et at., ‘Advertisement Nuisance’, pp. 478–9 ‘To Members’, A Beautiful World, 9 (1900–3), 7.

60. Letter of Evans, Richardson (Times, 5th September, 1902, p. 6) A Beautiful World, 10 (September 1909), 226–7.

61. Evans, ‘Advertising as a Trespass’, p. 972.

62. See, for instance, the advert for Pears' Soap in the Illustrated London News, October 29th, 1887 (reproduced in Richards, Thomas, The Commodity Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle 1851–1914 (Stanford, 1990), p. 250).

63. Dover and County Chronicle, 28th September 1901, p. 5.

64. A Beautiful World, 9 (1900–3), 9–10.

65. Dover Standard, 12th October, 1901, p. 5.

66. And with good reason. Writing in 1830, the American novelist James Fenimore Cooper described Dover and the cliffs above it as a place ‘both naturally and poetically fine, for, when one reflects that this accidental formation is precisely at the point where the island is nearest the continent, it has the character of a magnificent gateway to a great nation’ (Gleanings in Europe (2 vols., New York, 1828–30), II, pp. 3–4). Karl Peters, a later visitor, was similarly enthusiastic about ‘the shining chalk cliffs’ (England and the English, pp. 10–11).

67. 5th October 1901, p. 3.

68. A Beautiful World, 9 (1900–3), 18.

69. Dover Standard, 24th August, 1901, p. 5 Dover and County Chronicle, 12th October 1901, p. 5.

70. Letter of Evans, Richardson, Times, 19th October, 1900, p. 5.

71. ibid.. Dover Observer, 24th August 1901, p. 7.

72. Times, 19th April 1900, p. 15.

73. The cliffs of Dover were not, however, the only landscape feature ennobled and nationalised by Shakespearean connotations. The value placed on the scenery of the Chilterns, for example, owed much to the fact that their woods had provided ‘the residence of the famed British King, the “Cymbeline” of the immortal Shakespeare’ (Fowler, J. K., Records of Old Times (London, 1898), p. 4).

74. For instance, Lecky et at. ‘Advertisement Nuisance’, 473.

75. Evans, ‘Advertising as a Trespass’, 970.

76. ibid., 971.

77. In his Memories of 1900, for example, the prominent politician George Brodrick waxed lyrical over the open downland of the Home Counties, the woods of the New Forest, and the moorlands of Devon and Cornwall (Brodrick, George Charles, Memories and Impressions 1S31–1900 (London, 1900), pp. 301, 304–5).

78. Howard, Peter, ‘Painters' Preferred Places’, Journal of Historical Geography, 11(1985), 146.

79. See Rodee, Howard D., ‘The “dreary landscape” as a Background to Scenes of Rural Poverty in Victorian Paintings’, Art Journal, 36 (1977), 307–13.

80. Huish, Marcus B. and Allingham, Helen, Happy England (London, 1903), pp. 190–1, 195Hardie, Martin, ed., Water-Colour Painting in Britain (3 vols., London, 1966–8), 111, p. 113.

81. Huish and Allingham, Happy England, p. 4.

82. For examples of anxiety about the destruction of cottages see Shand, A. I., ‘Farmers and Farms’, Cornhill Magazine, n.s., 41 (March 1880), 343–5Smith, Mary Campbell, ‘Picturesque Village Homes’, Westminster Review, 141 (March 1894), 243 and Thomas Hardy The Woodlanders (1887) - which contains a description of the bull-dozing of thatched cottages(Ford, George H., ‘Felicitous Space: The Cottage Controversy’, in Knoepflmacher, U. C. and Tennyson, G. B., eds., Nature and the Victorian Imagination (Berkeley, 1977), p. 31).

83. Cited in Treble, Rosemary, ‘The Victorian Picture of the Country’, in Mingay, G. E., ed., The Rural Idyll (London, 1989), p. 54.

84. Huish and Allingham, Happy England, p. 118.

85. For reproductions of these paintings see ibid., pp. 76–7, 114–15.

86. Huish and Allingham, Happy England, pp. 146–7 and see Bell, E. Moberly, Octavia Hill (London, 1942), p. 237.

87. Lowenthal, David, ‘British National Identity and the English Landscape’, Rural History, 2:2 (1991), 215.

88. Hunter, Michael, ed., Preserving the Past: The Rise of Heritage in Modern Britain (Stroud, 1996), p. 7.

89. Cannadine, David, ‘The First Hundred Years’, in Newby, Howard, ed., The National Trust: The Next Hundred Years (London, 1995), p. 11. Although Peter Mandler has given considerable attention to the activities of the Trust in the inter-war years and after in his Fall and Rise of the Stately Home, its early history before 1914 remains almost completely ignored.

90. Cited in Ranlett, ‘“Checking nature's desecration”’ 199.

91. Rawnsley, ‘National Trust’, 190.

92. Octavia Hill; cited in Bell, Octavia Hill, pp. 234–5.

93. Rawnsley, ‘National Trust’, 191. Members of SCAPA were also aware of the particular charm of Barras Head, where - as one of them put it - ‘the ancient fortress of Tintagel, hallowed by so many memories rises against the sky’. ([Richardson Evans?], ‘The preservation of beautiful places’ [MS of speech, c. 1895–6], p. 4 (Lon. Met. Arch., A/SCA/V/3/10.)

94. See Eversley, Commons, pp. 167–71 Pasmore, Anthony, Verderers of the New Forest ([Beaulieu, 1976]), pp. 4850, 6266.

95. Eversley, Commons, p. 168 letter of Herbert, Auberon to The Times, 18th April 1890, p. 13 and ‘The Last Bit of Natural Woodland’, Nineteenth Century, 30 (September 1891), 354. See alsoKing, Joseph, ‘The New Forest and the War Office’, Westminster Review, 137 (March 1892), 261–7.

96. As a Times editorial warned, such insensitive planting would simply amount to a replication of the dreary coniferous landscape of the Landes of south-west France ‘on English soil, which has been proved capable of better things’ (19th September 1885, p. 9; and see also 18th April 1890, p. 9).

97. King, ‘New Forest’, p. 262.

98. Lowenthal, David and Prince, Hugh were the first to make this connection, with reference to the Britain of the 1960s (‘English Landscape Tastes’, The Geographical Review, 55 (1965), 207). Since the publication of Wiener's book, however, it is a view that has been enthusiastically adopted by historians.

99. Sheldon, Cyril, History of Poster Advertising (London, 1937), p. 102.

100. A Beautiful World, 4 (December 1894), 124.

101. On the basis of the lists of members and of signatories to petitions (both of which were printed in A Beautiful World), as well as who backed anti-advertising bills in Parliament, it can be calculated that between 1893 and 1907 23 Conservative, 11 Liberal Unionist, 24 Liberal, and 4 ‘Lib-Lab’ or Labour MPs had declared their sympathies with the ideals of SCAPA.

102. A Beautiful World, 3 (June 1894), 127–8. The speaker was the widow of the Liberal MP Henry Fawcett, a considerable figure in her own right actively involved in SCAPA, the CPS and the National Trust (and later, of course, in the suffragette movement).

103. Evans, Richardson, ‘Memorandum on the legislative aspect of the work of the Society for Checking the Abuses of Public Advertising’, 28th January 1904, p. 6 (Lon. Met. Arch., A/SCA/1V/4.)

104. See for example the speech of Lord Balfour of Burleigh in the House of Lords, Parliamentary Debates, 4th ser., 142, cc. 866–7; also Evans, Age of Disfigurement, pp. 32–3 and ‘Landscape and Legislation’, Cornhill Magazine, n.s. 23 (December 1907), 813.

105. Evans, ‘Advertising as a Trespass1, 973. See also his letters to The Times (e.g. 4th February, 1896, p. 7 26th April 1899, p. 12; 25Th March 1902, P. 6).

106. Speech of Griffin, Sir Lepel, A Beautiful World, 6 (December 1896), 15. And as E. S. Turner has commented, SCAPA might well have had a point. The ‘soap war’ of the late nineteenth century, for example, was certainly wasteful and of no benefit to the companies involved. (The Shocking History of Advertising (rev. ed., Harmondsworth, 1965), p. 133).

107. A Beautiful World, 2 (February 1894), 94 ibid., 9 (1900–3), 106.

108. Evans, ‘Advertising Disfigurement’, 257.

109. ibid.. Evans, ‘Advertising Disfigurement’, 257.

110. Evans, , SCAPA: Why it Exists: What it May Hope to do [pamphlet, 1896], p. 4 [emphasis tadded] (Lon. Met. Arch., A/SCA/V/3/1.)

111. A Beautiful World, 9 (1900–3), 126–7.

112. Evans ‘Advertising as a Trespass’, p. 968 ‘A Memorandum Regarding the Need of Concerted Action in the Defence of the Picturesque’, 5th May 1898 (Lon. Met. Arch., A/SCA/V/3/1), pp. 1–3 (Landscape and Legislation', p. 816.

113. Harris, Jose, Private Lives, Public Spirit: Britain 1870–1914 (London, 1994), pp. 32–6Lowenthal, David, The Past is a Foreign Country (Cambridge, 1985), p. 102 Mandler, Fall and Rise, esp. pp. 109–15 and ‘Against “Englishness”’, 158–61.

114. Harris, Private Lives, p. 33.

115. Lowenthal, Past is a Foreign Country, p. 102.

116. On this see for instance, Raphael Samuel, ‘Continuous National History’, in Samuel, , Patriotism: The Making and Unmaking of British National Identity (3 vols., London, 1989), I, pp. 1013.

117. Creighton, Mandell, ‘The Picturesque in History’, in Creighton, Historical Lectures and Addresses, ed. Creighton, Louise (London, 1903), p. 262.

118. Kent, W. H., ‘Patriotism or Imperialism?’, Westminster Review, 157 (February 1902), 132.

119. Speeches of Dilke, Sir Charles at Chelsea and Halifax, Times, 7th October 1885, p. 10; 14th October 1885, p. 7. Articles in periodicals frequently stressed these themes. See, for example, Acland, Arthur H. D., ‘What can be done for our County Villages’, New Review, 4 (April 1891), 323–5Long, R. Seymour, ‘Progressing by going Back’, Westminster Review, 148 (September 1897), 293.

120. Report from the Select Committee on Small Holdings With The Proceedings Of The Committee vol. 3 (1890), Ix.

121. Mandler, ‘Against “Englishness”’, p. 160.

122. Hunter, Michael, ‘The Preconditions of Preservation: A Historical Perspective’, in Lowenthal, David and Binney, Marcus, eds., Our Past Before Us: Why Do We Save It? (London, 1981), pp. 27–8. Hunter's argument, it should be noted, is solely concerned with historic monuments, but in the light of what has already been said here it is perfectly reasonable to extend it to include landscape.

123. Evans, Age of Disfigurement, p. 37.

124. Including Henry and Millicent Fawcett, William Morris, and Sir Robert Hunter.

125. Huish and Allingham, Happy England, pp. 143–4.

126. See, for instance, The Children's Maypole (1886), Spring on the Kentish Downs (1900), Night-Jar Lane, Whitley (1887). Reproductions of these paintings can be found in ibid., pp. 96, 102–3, 116–17.

127. In contrast to the approach taken by his predecessors, Green taught his readers that the doings of great men were in fact ‘secondary matters, and important only in so far as they affect the welfare and stimulate the thoughts and feelings of the great mass of undistinguished humanity in whose hands the fate of a nation lies’ (Bryce, James, ‘John Richard Green. In Memoriam’, Macmillan's Magazine, 48 (May 1883), 5974). This new emphasis on the history of ‘the common people of England’ was very influential, and informed many late nineteenth and early twentieth century interpretations of the enclosure movement. In the light of the evidence of the hardship it caused the rural poor, historians began to come to conclusions at variance with the assumption that enclosure had been necessary for progress. Not only did some hesitate before accepting that it ‘must have been an unmixed benefit to the nation’, but others felt it constituted nothing less than ‘a policy of slow extermination of the peasantry’(Hasbach, W., A History of the English Agricultural Labourer (English translation, London, 1908 [1894]), p. 92Slater, Gilbert, The Making of Modern England (London, 1913), p. 34 and seeSlater, , The English Peasantry and the Enclosure of Common Fields (London, 1907), passim). Such views clearly had an influence on policy makers like the agrarian campaigner Jesse Collings and, later on, the Liberal Minister for Agriculture Lord Carrington. (SeeCollings, Land Reform: Occupying Ownership, Peasant Proprietary and Rural Education (new ed., London, 1908 [1906]), pp. 5164 and Carrington's preface to Slater, English Peasantry).

128. See, for e.g., Hasbach, English Agricultural Labourer, pp. 71–8.

129. Cited in Bell, Octavia Hill, p. 231.

130. Hunter, Sir Robert, Footpaths and Commons and Parish and District Councils (London, 1895), p. 6Hill, Octavia, ‘Footpath Preservation’, Nature Notes, 3 (October 1892), 196; Clarke, Archibald, ‘Footpaths and Commons’, Nature Notes, 7 (January 1896), 911. See alsoRawnsley, H. D., ‘Footpath Preservation: A National Need’, Contemporary Review, 50 (September 1886), 373386.

131. Cited in Legg, National Trust, p. 15. Hill's views are also well illustrated by the quotations she sent Nature Notes from William Howitt's popular Book of the Seasons, many of which instance arbitrary action taken by landlords in blocking public rights of way. One, with its reference to the ‘village patriot’ Hampden, clearly reveals her populist, even radical, sympathies:

When the path of immemorial usage is closed – when the little streak, almost as fine as a mathematical line, along the wealthy man's ample field is grudgingly erased - it is impossible not to feel indignant at the pitiful monopoly … Is there no local ‘Hampden with doubtless breast’ to ‘withstand the petty tyrants of the fields’ and to save our good old footpaths? (‘Field Paths’, Nature Notes, 1 (September 15, 1890), 139).

132. For examples of such views see Bunce, Countryside Ideal, p. 182 Weideger, Paula, Gilding the Acorn: Behind the Facade of the National Trust (London, 1994), pp. 8, 35–6.

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