'Patriotism in things of beauty': Thomas Cecil Farrer, historical continuity and liberty in the Surrey countryside

Grieves, Keith (2017) 'Patriotism in things of beauty': Thomas Cecil Farrer, historical continuity and liberty in the Surrey countryside. Surrey Archaeological Collections, 100, pp. 163-185. ISSN (print) 0309-7803


On 21 April 1918 Thomas Cecil (2nd Lord ) Farrer addressed the Surrey Archaeological Society's AGM on the theme of 'Patriotism in Things of Beauty'. In the context of sacrifice and shortages in the fourth year of war , he sought to protect scenes of natural beauty in Surrey and their historical associations. Liberty, historical continuity, local patriotism and incessant watchfulness were his abiding points of reference in war and peace in defence of an older England in the open spaces and villages of surrey. His public action was historically minded, steeped in place-awareness and acknowledged that landscape preservation could memorialise the fallen of the Great War. Examples of preservationist and access issues involving documentary records, material culture and historic buildings and monuments will be explored. These will illuminate Lord Farrer's activism in the Surrey Archaelogical Society, the National trust, the Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society and the County Ancient Monuments Committee. Being rooted in the past and by walking the ground, Lord Farrer valued everyday scenes in mid-Surrey which all were entitled to enjoy amid intact, but often endangered, landscapes in the aftermath of war. His practical liberal mindedness was consistently evidenced in 40 years of public engagement, but after 1918 the urgent quest for peace and quiet in the countryside had a deeper resonance for lovers of Surrey. As an 'old Liberal', who believed in peace, retrenchment and reform, Farrer strove to made sense of the conflict between beauty and utility amid history and nature near metropolitan London.

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