In the 1940s, HJ Massingham, documentor of rural England, described the concept of "picturesque" as a "giant worm that had trailed its slime" across the countryside. In the late 1990s the debate was alive as ever with the Countryside Alliance (lead mainly by the pro-hunting lobby) complaining that city dwellers' ignorance was destroying rural traditions.
In fact, hunting is a tiny part of the conflicts troubling the countryside. Town And Country brings together leading academics, environmentalists, historians, anthropologists, urban planners, farmers, journalists and politicians to discuss the dilemmas in depth. The 28 essays question many ingrained ideas. The book debunks the image of the farm family, discusses heritage culture and tackles a multitude of issues such as car culture, organic farming, rural housing shortages, animal rights, self-sufficiency, commuter villages, conservation, new towns and lack of public transport. It wonders how long Britain will be able to retain its unique landscape of higgledy-piggledy, misshapen fields before the land is bulldozed into the angular, characterless, industrial-agriculture landscape of other European countries.
Town And Country explores countryside issues from all angles, analysing the views of everyone from The Soil Association to The Movement for Middle England. Rather than just highlighting the problems, it suggests solutions. It also points out that though urbanites may have romantic, unrealistic notions of quaint country life, the rural population's view of unfriendly, polluted, greedy city life can be just as stereotyped. --Sarah Champion
It has become increasingly apparent that in Britain the relationship between town and country is breaking down and that both are in crisis: policies concerning urbanisation, industry, housing and transport are in disarray, while new issues have arisen concerning the environment, farming, the rural economy, food quality. . .
In Town and Country, members of the Town and Country Forum, a body established in 1995 to bring together influential and thoughtful people concerned with this issue, explore the many-faceted problem of the relationship between urban and rural communities, providing both a focus for debate and an authoritative reference point for contemporary argument. The contributors include academics, philosophers, writers, political activists, environmentalists and other experts on urban and rural affairs. The result is a book of immense importance raising fundamental questions about the way we live now.