Melton Constable

W.R. Mead

  • The past is a foreign country by David Lowenthal
    Cambridge, 489 pp, £27.50, November 1985, ISBN 0 521 22415 2

‘The owner of Melton Constable, one of the finest Charles II houses in England and listed grade one, is to be served with a repairs notice and compulsory purchase order ... if ...’ The handsome façade illustrated above this caption from the Times of 31 December 1985 might have been an appropriate frontispiece to The past is a foreign country had the order been issued somewhat earlier, because Melton Constable was the location for the film of L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between and it is from the opening words of the novel that the title of this unusual book derives. The preservation and restoration of the past has become a growth industry as those who support Save Britain’s Heritage know only too well. We live in a retrospective age and David Lowenthal’s discursive study is a product of it. One of the attractions of this book is that it enables the Melton Constables of the world to be seen in the context of the future as well as the past.

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