Posted by: secretperson | December 11, 2007

Museum of British History

Lord Baker writes here, as part of the Telegraph’s “Call Yourself British” campaign (which looks likely to provoke most of my posts for a while) of his desire for a museum of British history. I am very interested in British and English history and think this is a great idea. History teaching tends to be modular. Greeks, Egyptians, Victorians in primary school. Roman Britain, Industrial revolution, World Wars in Secondary school, at least that’s what I remember. It lacks an overall narrative time line, sometimes failing to put things in their proper place in the name of detailed study. Too much is done on the wars, important though they are. Henry VIII may be taught with no feeling for the Protestant revolution in Europe. You might get 1066 mentioned, but get nothing on the preceding 500 years of Anglo-Saxon civilisation that created England. It too often lacks context.

So I think a museum covering the span of British history is a good thing. I may favour English independence, but we have been part of the Union for 300 years, shared a King with Scotland for 100 more years before that, and ruled over Wales as a principality for even longer. You cannot teach English history separate from Britain (and Ireland). I have no problem with this as long as it is well done, historically accurate and free from political interference.

Kenneth Baker refers to “our nation” I think any history extending beyond 300 years would have to recognise that the UK is a multi-national state. He talks of “A North East engineer invented the first railway engine; a Scottish electrical engineer the first television”. Scottish vs North-East, I hope there’ll be no nations and regions rubbish! (Except for the heptarchy). And of course

The museum would also show how over hundreds of years we have absorbed peoples from all races and all religions and how they have enriched our country.

Well I guess he had to say it didn’t he. I have no problem again as long as there is no bending of the facts to promote a PC world-view. No repeat of Trevor Phillips “Turks won the Armada” re-writing of history.

Also it would be nice to see the museum somewhere other than London, but I suppose it wouldn’t get the publicity or money it deserves in that case. I would like to see a separate Anglo-Saxon museum to cover the origins of England, an area of history that is much neglected too. I would also like to see an English parliament start the next chapter in the history of my nation.

The Telegraph wants your views on what to put in here.

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