Non-Fiction

Review: Irreplaceable: A History Of England in 100 Places by Philip Wilkinson

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Historic places represent inventions, achievements, and discoveries which have shaped the country and the world beyond. From the observatory in Greenwich to the Howarth parsonage – we are drawn to places where remarkable work has taken place. 

This book is the result of a campaign designed to promote and celebrate Britain’s historical places. The sites were chosen by 10 expert judges, including BBC Arts editor Will Gompertz and classicist and academic Mary Beard. The introduction from author and historian Bettany Hughes draws attention to the fact that, in conflict zones, similar sites have been destroyed, and suggests we should celebrate the places which represent our human experience. 

The book is divided into ten chapter which cover different disciplines. There is a chapter dedicated to places of Loss and Destruction, as well as one to Power, Protest and Progress. These chapters link back to the introduction and remind us that human progress should never be taken for granted. 

Each site is covered in a double-page spread. Photographs on one side are accompanied by information on the other. The location of each site is made clear, and the reasons for its significance are explored. I enjoyed the photography alone – Historic England holds one of the largest photographic archives in the country and many of the pictures in the book come from these archives. Reading the book made me aware of this invaluable resource which is just waiting to be explored.

I can see this being a popular coffee-table book – the entries have enough depth to be interesting but are short enough that people might enjoy flicking through. Prepare to draw up a bucket-list of places you would like to visit – the best part of reading the book as a person in the UK was knowing how many of these sites were just outside my doorstep. 

 

Thanks to Historic England and MidasPR for my copy of Irreplaceable: A History Of England in 100 Places. Opinions my own.

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