Wednesday 30 April 2014
Studies of a 500 year-old map by landscape historian Alison Doggett have revealed that the Misbourne Valley, across which HS2 will slash, has barely changed since medieval times.
The results of her work are described in an article (A Lost Valley?) in the May 2014 edition of BBC Countryfile magazine.
The ancient map was drawn in 1620 for Dame Mary Wolley, who owned the Chequers Estate, which in those days included the northern part of the Misbourne Valley. Nowadays of course Chequers is well-known as the Prime Minister's rural retreat.
Alison's comparison of the field boundaries, woodlands, lanes and farmsteads as depicted in 1620 with the picture today shows that in many cases very little has changed. Thanks to the good stewardship of the people who have lived in the area and worked the land, and its status as part of a nationally-protected landscape (the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) since 1965, a visitor from 1620 would find the Misbourne Valley very familiar.
Unfortunately, the merits of good stewardship and national protection have been completely ignored by the HS2 project.
The article concludes:
Landscapes are granted protected status for characteristics that make them unique. The
protection ensures we tread lightly so that we may share the landscapes with future generations, just as past generations shared them with us. We need to ask why protections on historical landscapes are being overturned. Is this trampling of our rural inheritance part of a bigger picture: a calculated indifference to the value of countryside in the name of progress?
Read the complete article.