Until the middle of the 19th Century, control of the land was the key to power and wealth. This sometimes provocative book outlines the tax-gathering skills of the Anglo-Saxon Earldomen, the futility of 'Danegeld', the ability of William the Conqueror's men to slaughter those Saxons and forcibly 'take title to the whole realm'. The way the Church amassed land on the flimsy promise of a better life in any hereafter is noted. Henry VII, needing money and divorces, called the monastic bluff by nationalising four million acres of England, selling or giving away two thirds of this to his Chums. After Civil War, a Cambridge squire, Oliver Cromwell, took control of English land and confiscated a lot of it - most of which was given back when the country reverted to a monarchy, controlled by the landowners. Charles II generously gave land to ladies who took up the right position and several of their heirs survive to this day with titles and estates. The book describes how ownership of England became concentrated in very few, very wealthy, families in the 18th and 19th centuries.
This did not fit the spirit of the age at the beginning of 20th century and Lloyd George declared financial war on the dukes and earls to finance the beginning of the welfare state. The shift to present-day owner-occupation of agricultural England is described, along with a note on who now owns the land and exactly what food we produce. The author takes a careful look at two landowning charities, the National Trust and the RSPB. The book ends with a blast against bureaucracy, strong doubts about the EU/CAP, and some positive pointers to policies which might help us all survive, reasonably well fed, in England's green and pleasant land. With a foreword by Duke of Northumberland, this is essential reading for farmers, landowners and everyone interested in the past, present and future of English land.show more