Who Owns England?
‘A formidable, brave and important book’ Robert Macfarlane
Who owns England?
Behind this simple question lies this country’s oldest and best-kept secret. This is the history of how England’s elite came to own our land, and an inspiring manifesto for how to open up our countryside once more.
This book has been a long time coming. Since 1086, in fact. For centuries, England’s elite have covered up how they got their hands on millions of acres of our land, by constructing walls, burying surveys and more recently, sheltering behind offshore shell companies. But with the dawn of digital mapping and the Freedom of Information Act, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to hide.
Trespassing through tightly-guarded country estates, ecologically ravaged grouse moors and empty Mayfair mansions, writer and activist Guy Shrubsole has used these 21st century tools to uncover a wealth of never-before-seen information about the people who own our land, to create the most comprehensive map of land ownership in England that has ever been made public.
From secret military islands to tunnels deep beneath London, Shrubsole unearths truths concealed since the Domesday Book about who is really in charge of this country – at a time when Brexit is meant to be returning sovereignty to the people. Melding history, politics and polemic, he vividly demonstrates how taking control of land ownership is key to tackling everything from the housing crisis to climate change – and even halting the erosion of our very democracy.
It’s time to expose the truth about who owns England – and finally take back our green and pleasant land.
'A formidable, brave and important book' Robert Macfarlane 'Potentially one of the most important books of the year' Chris Packham 'This is going to be a great book, crucial for anyone who seeks to understand this country' George Monbiot 'An irrefutable and long overdue call for the enfranchisement of the landless' Marion Shoard, author of This Land is Our Land 'The question posed by the title of this crucial book has, for nearly a thousand years, been one that as a nation we have mostly been too cowed or too polite to ask. There has, as a result, been some serious journalistic legwork in Shrubsole's endeavour. Shrubsole ends his fine inquiry into these issues with a 10-point prospectus as to how this millennium-long problem might be brought up to date, and how our land could be made to work productively and healthily for us all' Observer, Book of the Week 'Both detective story and historical investigation, Shrubsole's book is a passionately argued polemic which offers radical, innovative but also practical proposals for transforming how the people of England use and protect the land that they depend on - land which should be "a common treasury for all"' Guardian 'Painstakingly researched ... having come to the end of this illuminating and well-argued book it's hard not to feel that it's time for a revolution in the way we manage this green and pleasant land' Melissa Harrison, New Statesman 'There is an enormous amount to admire' Times Literary Supplement 'Shrubsole is an entertaining guide to the history of landownership' Literary Review
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