History

St James's, Piccadilly

Britain is a country with a discernible history that stretches back several millennia, and everywhere you look you will see ample evidence of Britain's past. From Stonehenge to St Pancras and Ironbridge, Blenheim Palace to Hadrian's Wall and Lindisfarne, the past permeates the British present.

You may, however, be surprised to find that the British people treat their own history with insouciance and a complete lack of self-awareness. They will pass a medieval church every day on their commute to work and never remark upon it; they will live in an impossibly quaint 17th-century cottage and only notice the dodgy roof-tiles; they will barely notice the ancient rights of way and field patterns that adorn the local countryside.

Sometimes British people will moan about conservation; they feel resentful of the planning authorities for the restrictions that surround 'listed buildings', irritated by the fences that enclose their favourite dog-walking routes (and neolithic sites), frustrated by the renovation works that clog the traffic in the medieval town centre. These are the world-weary reactions of people who are steeped in the past, and have forgotten to value it.

Ultimately, however, a sense of  history permeates the British. They are taught about Roman roads, Tudor executions, the Medieval wool-trade and the English civil war from an early age, and they are completely accustomed to seeing history all around them.

So don't be surprised if they seem to take their own history for granted - they do.

 

 

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