Page 2 - History 2020
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How are they linked? History books, written by specialists in each area, treat them as

            three separate things, leaving us to assume – what? – that it’s just a coincidence that
            all three arose in Britain in the same century? Was it? Not surprisingly this has
            promoted a climate of British exceptionalism (the belief that we’re just geniuses). We
            know better of course. So, have we missed something?

            The second thing I don’t get was prompted by a TV documentary presented by
            Michael Buerk called “How the Victorians Built Britain”, about the great 19  century
            engineering and building achievements like reservoirs, sewer systems, bridges etc.

            After each segment, Michael Buerk kept saying “They were building the modern
            world!” He’s right of course. But I kept wondering, did we realise we were doing that
            at the time? How did we feel about it? Proud? Arrogant? Surprised?

             These questions have bugged me whenever I thought about the 19  century, the
            period which clearly bridges the pre-modern 18  century and the totally modern 20
            century. But how did the bridge work? This partly inspired me to offer these sessions,
            which deal in turn with the Industrial Revolution, the rise of Parliamentary
            democracy, and the British Empire. How are they linked? What did they mean at the
            time? Was the 19  century, as Michael Buerk implied, an age of power and glory? If
            not, what was it? I hope the following sessions can find some answers.

            Summary Of The Episodes
            1 Introduction: chronology, joining the dots
            2 Merrie England revisited: the Great Exhibition: Lord Eglington’s great joust; Joseph

            Paxton (the Crystal Palace), August Pugin (the Medieval Court); Sir William Armstrong
            3 England as a garden: the rural idyll: the pre-Raphaelites – a presentation by Cathy
            Knight; writers John Ruskin; William Morris; reformers Ebenezer Howard, Octavia
            Hill; Martin Weiner and Declinism
            4 The Gothic Constitution: we shape our houses: architects Charles Barry (Palace of

            Westminster), George Gilbert Scott (Foreign Office); writer Walter Bagehot (the
            5 The Hotel Cecil: democracy versus aristocracy: politicians Lord Palmerston. William
            Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Salisbury, David Lloyd George
            6 Recessional: Empire anxieties: the Great Rebellion, the Boer War, Lord Salisbury,
            Rudyard Kipling
            7 Resurgam: The Empire strikes back: Benjamin Disraeli (Royal Titles Act), Joseph
            Chamberlain (Imperial Preference and tariff reform)
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