I'm a Historian, Get Me into There!
Furtado, Peter, History Today
WHERE WOULD YOU PUT your vote for Britain's best historic site for a day out? Somewhere famous and universally celebrated, like Hampton Court or Hadrian's Wall? Or perhaps you'd choose a smaller, less visited place, somewhere only you know about, a place you can imbibe the resonances of the past in peace and solitude.
This summer the latest interactive TV series and poll will seek to determine the nation's favourite historic site. The digital channel UKTV History is screening a series of five programmes hosted by Alan Titchmarsh, each one looking at some of the greatest sites around the country, while visitors to the Channel's website can vote for their favourite. Come the autumn, a grand finale will reveal the most popular of all.
How did Titchmarsh, best known for his back-garden makeovers, move into history? His interest in garden design took him naturally towards architecture; and from there to a celebration of the continuities of British history. At a time when we are agonizing about what British history is, how it should be taught and how to get everyone to identify with it, Titchmarsh insists that we have to rise above some of the most horrifying parts of our past, and remember there are things to relish as well. 'Of course certain aspects of our history are horrifying. Arguably we are more humane than we have ever been, but being humane brings its own burdens. We mustn't lose that humanity but, as well as being aware of mankind's worst failings and excesses, we must not forget to cherish our history and enjoy it. By celebrating, you can enjoy the here and now, and history can help you do it.'
There is so much history, so many remarkable sites, on our doorsteps. Titchmarsh, as a resident of Winchester, has a particular affection for Winchester Cathedral with its tomb of his favourite novelist Jane Austen. …