Letter From British Heritage – November 2007

The Long Hot British Summer?

The long, hot summer is over. After a lovely warm April, the summer fell on Great Britain with a deluge. Seemingly endless rains, often torrential, engulfed the island and caused unprecedented flooding across the country, particularly in Gloucestershire and along river valleys from Yorkshire to Devon. The weather brightened later in the season, but Brits from Great Yarmouth to Holyhead muttered in time-honored fashion about the soggy climate.

What made the summer hotter than the weather, of course, was the continuing climate of anxiety attendant to these days of wanton terror in which we live. In one of the most diverse, welcoming societies in the world today, Britons have been jarred by the realization that they have in some measure been nursing the proverbial nest-of-vipers within. The cliff-hanger foiling of bloody intent in London’s Haymarket and at Glasgow airport was just another reminder.

In the decades after World War II, Great Britain has been among the most open nations on earth. Economic migration to the sceptered isle has been very easy for the peoples of the Commonwealth Nations, the former colonies of the British Empire. Now, of course, the European Union means the borders across Europe are loose indeed, and an influx of economic migrants from Eastern Europe has altered the British workforce and challenged its social fabric yet again. While we all live these days in another Age of Anxiety, Britain has shown again and again that bulldog spirit necessary to meet the current challenges to Western Civilization.

As it happens, British Heritage represents the best of this our mutual civilization and reminds us what we have to preserve and protect. This issue we visit the Elizabethan treasure house of Burghley, a Saxon watermill in Somerset, the Honours of Scotland, medieval-walled Chester and the Royal Shakespeare Company. That’s a lot to preserve and protect—and to visit.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War. It is good to remember victory, and that British bulldog tenacity has created victory again and again. It’s an appropriate time to look back at the remarkable life and career of Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady who willed that Falkland victory to happen and shook the society of her day.

As always British Heritage traverses our soggy, sceptered isle from Cornwall to Cape Wraith and invites you to travel along, to remember your own days in Scotland, England and Wales, to warm by the familiar fires of Britain and to dream of travel adventures yet to come. Welcome aboard!

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