Know your his­tory

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

WHERE do you think the atom was first split: Cam­bridge, Manch­ester, Cal­i­for­nia or Geneva? If you have just an­swered Geneva, you’d be in good com­pany—but you’d be wrong.

A Yougov poll car­ried out in April found that only a few peo­ple know where im­por­tant events in Eng­land’s his­tory actually took place. For ex­am­ple, just 20% of the re­spon­dents re­alised that the New­ing­ton Green Uni­tar­ian Church in Lon­don was the cra­dle of fem­i­nism, only 10% were aware that Bolton, in Greater Manch­ester, was the birth­place of train­ers and vir­tu­ally no one— a mea­gre 7%—knew that the iron­fram­ing tech­nol­ogy used to build sky­scrapers was de­vel­oped in Shrews­bury.

‘All across the coun­try, there are build­ings and places that have wit­nessed key mo­ments in our na­tional story, in­deed in world his­tory, but this sur­vey shows that many of us don’t know the sig­nif­i­cance of these places—or, worse, as­sume the events they rep­re­sent hap­pened in other coun­tries,’ says Dun­can Wil­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of His­toric Eng­land.

To ad­dress this, the char­ity is launch­ing a new cam­paign, Ir­re­place­able: A His­tory of Eng­land in 100 Places. Spon­sored by spe­cial­ist pe­riod-build­ing in­surer Ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal, it will re­veal the ge­o­graph­i­cal back­drop of cru­cial break­throughs in English sci­ence, art, ar­chi­tec­ture, mu­sic and in­dus­try.

To kick off the cam­paign, His­toric Eng­land would like the pub­lic to nominate sites that played a cru­cial role in our rich her­itage. A dis­tin­guished panel of judges, in­clud­ing Mary Beard, Tris­tram Hunt and Prof Robert Win­ston, will then whit­tle down the list to the 100 places that they be­lieve best en­cap­su­late the many facets of English his­tory. These sites will be ex­plored in a book and a se­ries of pod­casts. To find out more about the ini­tia­tive or make your nom­i­na­tions, visit http://his­tori­ceng­land.org.uk. To test your own knowl­edge of Eng­land’s his­toric places, try our quiz at www. coun­trylife.co.uk. And, just in case you’re still won­der­ing, the atom was first split in Manch­ester.

Top: Was Shake­speare born here? Above: Where did Ruther­ford split the atom?

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