Letter: Pitchford Hall's lost heritage

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The Independent Online
Sir: The assumption that the English are uniquely interested in their past and that this is at the root of our economic failure - as your leading article of 8 October attacking proposals to preserve country houses suggests - should be seen as a product of English insularity rather than as a rational analysis of our problems.

As anyone who travels abroad can see, the English are not alone in their respect for their heritage, and there seems to be no relationship between that respect and economic success. Both the communist Russians and Poles and the capitalist Germans poured vast sums into rebuilding historic palaces and streets destroyed during the Second World War; something that never happened in this country. In America and Japan, historic buildings are treated with respect that verges on a veneration seldom, if ever, found here. It does not seem to have locked them into the past.

But your leading article misses the point about the argument for saving Pitchford Hall. The house may have been sold to a new owner, but the contents built up over 400 years have been dispersed to the four winds. This is a real loss to the wealth of our heritage. It is as if an ancient woodland with a rich and varied wildlife had been uprooted to make way for a monoculture of wheat. That, presumably, would not be applauded in your pages?

The question to be answered is how much of its historical diversity a relatively wealthy country can afford to preserve. Respect for the past is not a sign of weakness.

Yours faithfully,

GILES WORSLEY

London, SE1

9 October

The writer is architectural editor of 'Country Life'.

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