Safe as Houses?

The Gowers Report of 1950 was the first step in the postwar rescue of Britain’s country house heritage.

Audley End, near Saffron Walden, Essex, 1949 © John Tarlton/Getty Images.

Seventy years ago, a government-appointed committee published a report into the future of Britain’s country house heritage. The report is not as well known as the other achievements of the 1945-51 Labour government, such as the creation of the National Health Service or the formation of National Parks. Yet the findings of the report were to have a profound influence on the policies of successive postwar governments towards the conservation of the country’s most significant buildings, landscapes and collections.

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