Foreword by Mr. David Bellamy
A sense of history is a very precious thing and there is nowhere in the world better than England in which to find that common sense and in the real meaning of those words gain understanding from the past, find reason for the present and hope for the future.
This is the story of one English Parish, St Nicholas Hurst near Reading in Royal Berkshire. Like most of the Parish in this once green and pleasant land it began its human life as a clearing in the wild wood which then stretched clear across the British Isles. A forest wilderness within which an ever increasing number of people hunted and gathered their livelihoods, on lands which were owned by no one and hence were common to all.
In the days of Parish Councils, Garden Centres and Real Estate it is almost impossible to comprehend such a state of affairs - free land, a common heritage.
Conflict for the resources of that land must have been the first spur to the rights and wrongs of ownership. Ownership which would change many times across the centuries as Romans, Vikings, Domesday archivists and many many more made this their place of livelihood.
Cleared of forest and put to crops the land provided an ever increasing number of people with much more than food, a society, rural in setting and in outlook in which to live their lives and raise their families, still in touch with nature.
Tracks, turnpikes, roads and railways changed all that destroying the solitude but not the Parish as acts of ownership and enclosure divided it's lands into ever smaller parts.
Its role changed from one of self sufficiency and self esteem to that of dependant dormitory as motorways and commuters found their place in the country. By some miracle St Nicholas Hurst still remains a piece of Olde England holding its breath in the choking midst of urban sprawl. All it needs is some loophole in some planning act and it could disappear forever.
The pressures to destroy in the name of development, are enormous and they come mainly from outside. The pressures to maintain the status quo are equally great and they come from within. Which will, or which indeed should win? Either as an outsider or an insider please read this book, for it contains a sense of history, I ask you, then and only then make up your mind as you do remember this. Every acre of England in now owned by someone, but no one owns that common heritage which makes this England what it was and still could be Ďa green and pleasant landí. To destroy part of that common heritage is an act of vandalism, no an act of treason.