Let Us Live Again in the Past: The Origins of the British National Trust

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Marc Baer, Hope College

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Following upon a century into British industrialization, there developed a growing public concern regarding the massive economic, physical and social changes that flowed from industrialization, a concern ultimately about the future of the world’s first modern society. The founding in 1896 of the National Trust was one outcome of growing unease about unchecked industrial transformation. This research will demonstrate how the formation of the National Trust resulted from a combination of three concepts of preservation: the Open Space Movement, the Southern Metaphor and Provincialism. Efforts at preservation ranged from societal to political to environmental, and represented a wide array of means to a similar end—preserving the past to shape the future. They represented various reactions to modern industry in Britain at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, and collectively made a positive statement about public opinion on preservation at that time.

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