Men from the Ministry by Simon Thurley
How Britain Saved Its Heritage

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Simon Thurley's main object is to show that in fact the old department was working pretty well before it was transformed, thank you, and that we owe the preservation and restoration of most of our most beloved historical places to it.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Between 1900 and 1950 the British state amassed a huge collection of over 800 historic buildings, monuments, and sites and opened them to the public.  This engaging book explains why the extraordinary collecting frenzy took place, locating it in the fragile and nostalgic atmosphere of the interwar years, dominated by neo-romanticism and cultural protectionism. The government’s activities were mirrored by the establishment of dozens of voluntary bodies, including the Council for the Protection of Rural England, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, and the National Trust. Men from the Ministry sets all this activity, for the first time, in its political, economic and cultural contexts, painting a picture of a country traumatized by war, fearful of losing what was left of its history, and a government that actively set out to protect them. It dissects a government program that established a modern state on deep historical and rural roots.

 

About Simon Thurley

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Simon Thurley is the Chief Executive of English Heritage. He was formerly the Director of the Museum of London, and the Curator of Historic Royal Palaces.
 
Published August 20, 2013 by Yale University Press. 224 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography, Travel, Professional & Technical, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Men from the Ministry
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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Bernard Porter on Jun 20 2013

Simon Thurley's main object is to show that in fact the old department was working pretty well before it was transformed, thank you, and that we owe the preservation and restoration of most of our most beloved historical places to it.

Read Full Review of Men from the Ministry: How Br... | See more reviews from Guardian

Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Edwin Heathcote on May 31 2013

English Heritage has been an easy...target for government cuts and this book is, in a way, a defence of its raison d’être and a warning of what would happen if it wasn’t there.

Read Full Review of Men from the Ministry: How Br... | See more reviews from Financial Times

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