New Book | Heritage

Posted in books by Editor on January 18, 2023

Available from Blackwell’s:

James Stourton, Heritage: A History of How We Conserve Our Past (London: Apollo, 2022), 496 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1838933166, £40.

Book coverHeritage is all around us: millions belong to its organisations, tens of thousands volunteer for it, and politicians pay lip service to it. When the Victorians began to employ the term in something approaching the modern sense, they applied it to cathedrals, castles, villages, and certain landscapes. Since then a multiplicity of heritage labels have arisen, cultural and commercial, tangible and intangible—for just as every era has its notion of heritage, so does every social group, and every generation. In Heritage, James Stourton focuses on elements of our cultural and natural environment that have been deliberately preserved: the British countryside and national parks, buildings such as Blenheim Palace and Tattersall Castle, and the works of art inside them. He charts two heroic periods of conservation—the 1880s and the 1960s—and considers whether threats of wealth, rampant development, and complacency are similar in the present day. Heritage is both a story of crisis and profound change in public perception, and one of hope and regeneration.

James Stourton is a British art historian, a former Chairman of Sotheby’s UK, and the author of Great Houses of London, British Embassies, and the authorized biography of Kenneth Clark. Stourton frequently lectures for Cambridge University History of Art Faculty, Sotheby’s Institute of Education, and The Art Fund. In addition, he is a senior fellow of the Institute of Historical Research, and he sits on the Heritage Memorial Fund, a government panel that decides what constitutes heritage and thus what should be saved for the nation.



1  The First Threats
2  The Search for Arcadia
3  Assembling a National Collection
4  The Exodus of Paintings
5  Brave New World
6  Birmingham and Anti-Heritage
7  The Backlash: The Heroic Period of Conservation
8  Rescuing a City: York
9  The Sack of Bath
10  The Archaeologists
11  Beyond the Town
12  The Fall and Rise of Country Houses
13  The Enthusiasts: Canals and Railways
14  Regeneration: Mills, Housing, and Power Stations
15  Regeneration: Cities, Docklands, and Basins
16  Liverpool Story
17  Margate Sands
18  The Heritage Industry and the Lottery
19  Churches
20  Museums
21  Heritage: An Unfinished History

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