DOMESTIC AND URBAN ENGLANDS Introduction
In this chapter we turn our attention to the idea and the reality of home through a sequence of material offering accounts of domestic and urban England. ‘Homes Fit for Heroes’ was a major element of the wider programme of social reconstruction embarked upon at the end of the First World War. This slogan was not, however, simply about providing adequate housing for returning servicemen. Implicit in it was the idea that a return to the normality of established gender and familial roles would secure and restore stability in the wake of the upheavals of war. Moreover, army recruitment in both the Boer and the First World War had revealed appalling standards of illhealth. Adequate housing was seen by all political parties as a first step towards rearing a healthy citizenry and promoting ‘national efficiency’. The idea of home was also linked to ideals of Empire through the construction of England as ‘the homeland’. Returning servicemen, those serving in the colonies and overseas and those living abroad for whatever reason, might look to England and all it represented as ‘home’—the motherland, the place of origin, safety and identity.