chapter  5
26 Pages

English heritage

The semi-public body which now takes care of our ancient buildings has taken the name of ‘English Heritage’. It is an evocative title, suggesting a peculiar national virtue handed down to us through countless generations. The associations are themselves ancient ones; they evoke a mixture of nostalgia and pride which has been used often enough in the past to help create a sense of national identity. That such an identity can be built from feelings which exclude a large part of the nation suggests how confusedly and uncritically they are held; this particular blend of emotion is in itself a myth, and one of peculiar potency.