Our island history

Education secretary Michael Gove is encouraging English Heritage to compose a list of historically interesting sites. It’s to foster a love of history in schoolchildren. (I don’t suppose Fitton will be on the list, even though we have an oak that probably dates from the English Civil War.)

I do wonder about this love of history that leaps in at convenient moments. Most of the time, the government of the day couldn’t care less. The third runway at Heathrow would have obliterated quite a few ancient houses with medieval beams. The high speed rail link  HS2 will zoom through areas of outstanding natural beauty, demolishing listed buildings and altering historic landscapes forever.

You do need big national projects, of course. I mean, where would we be without the M25? But I don’t quite see the point of getting prissily breathless about the wonders of Leeds Castle when, at the same time, you’re busy bulldozing centuries of heritage in the name of progress.

Either historic sites matter, or they don’t. Particularly as, once you’ve razed them to the ground, it’s too late to wish you’d thought about it a bit more carefully.

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