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Lifescapes: The Experience of landscape in Britain, 1870–1960

7:00pm-8:00pm on Monday 18 March

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 26th March. For events on or after 27th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

Cambridge University Press Bookshop, 1-2 Trinity St, Cambridge , CB2 1SZ

Why does landscape matter to us? Rural historian Dr Jeremy Burchardt (University of Reading) has spent nearly 20 years trying to find out. In this talk, he draws on three remarkable unpublished diaries to explore the vital role that landscape plays for many people as a source of wellbeing, emotional equilibrium and personal development.

For the Bolton GP Dr John Johnston (1852–1927), landscape served many purposes. Quiet rural enclaves within Bolton itself could provide a temporary haven, snatched for an hour or two between surgeries, from the pressures of his demanding job. The fields and hills around the village of Rivington allowed him to get further away from the noise, smoke and grime of the town. But sitting quietly in a wood or gazing at a river or stream could also enable deeper processes of restoration and reconnection to a happy childhood spent in and around the Scottish Borders town of Annan.

The Devon genealogist and antiquarian Beatrix Cresswell (1861–1940) also used landscape as a refuge, although in her case more often from exasperating relatives rather than occupational burdens and anxieties. The often arduous cycle rides she undertook up hill and down dale across the county also provided a physical outlet for her vigorous energy, while landscape also became a source of professional identity and income when she began writing guidebooks for the Homeland Handbooks series. Above all, however, the rural Devon landscapes that she was so deeply attached to were a source of security and continuity, largely because they were bound up with memories of her beloved father.

William Hallam (1868–1956) was born and brought up in the little estate village of Lockinge in Berkshire. However, with great reluctance, he was forced to leave Lockinge in search of employment, which he eventually found at the Great Western Railway Works in Swindon – one of the largest factories in the world at the time. Hallam hated both Swindon and the Works, and resorted to rural landscapes as an antidote to them. He remained deeply attached to Lockinge and frequently returned there, undertaking long walks across the adjacent downs. For Hallam, as for Cresswell, landscape was a vital source of security and continuity; although, as the son of a farmworker, the local landscapes he cherished were infused not only with personal but also with collective and often work-related memories, customs and traditions.

Booking/Registration is: REQUIRED

Additional Information

Age: All Ages
Format: Talk
Timing: In person
Cost: Free
Event Capacity: 60
Theme: Environment, Society
Accessibility: Full access

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