Institute for Policy Research

The Fight for Beauty

Mon Mar 27 13:06:00 BST 2017

IPR Public Lecture

Time: 6.00 - 7.00pm

Venue: 8W 1.1 (you can find travel information regarding the University of Bath here)

Speakers: Dame Fiona Reynolds, DBE

Audience: Open to all, with free registration in advance

On Monday 27 March, former Director-General of the National Trust Dame Fiona Reynolds will speak on the importance of conserving beauty at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR). Her lecture, entitled 'The Fight for Beauty', will draw on material presented in her recent book of the same name.

Abstract: In a world where, it too often seems, only the economy matters, we have forgotten how important beauty is to our lives. It’s a word rarely used in official language today, yet in the past beauty has mattered enough for people to fight for it and for governments to respond.

In this lecture, Dame Fiona charts the story of the fight for beauty from the moment Wordsworth’s devotion to it tipped from admiration into defence - as his beloved Lake District came under threat from suburbanising villas, the spiky-leaved larch and the thundering railway. Ruskin took up the fight for beauty and inspired a generation of campaigners, leading to the foundation of the conservation movement in Britain. Then, following the Second World War, beauty was at the heart of the objectives of a government determined to build a better, fairer Britain for all those who had come through two devastating conflicts.

Drawing on these stories - and her own as a campaigner for beauty - Dame Fiona will describe how beauty has been fought for, diminished, revived and marginalised as our country has been through the processes of change. Looking at the beauty of landscape, nature and cultural heritage, she will outline how industrialisation, urbanisation and the commercialisation of farming and forestry have posed repeated threats to beauty - and how those who love it have fought for and defended it. She will also show how, with the help of beauty, these tensions can be reconciled.

Biography: Dame Fiona Reynolds, DBE became Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 2012. She came to the college from the National Trust, of which she was Director-General from 2001-2012. During her time at the National Trust she made it warmer and more welcoming, bringing the houses to life and raising the profile of the Trust’s work in the countryside.

Before becoming DG of the Trust, she was Director of the Women’s Unit in the Cabinet Office (1998-2000), Director of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (now Campaign to Protect Rural England, 1987-98) and Secretary to the Council for National Parks (now Campaign to Protect National Parks, 1980-87).

Dame Fiona is the Senior Non-Executive Director on the Executive Board of the BBC, a Non-Executive Director of Wessex Water, and Chair of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, the Green Alliance, the International National Trusts Organisation and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England.

Dame Fiona was appointed CBE for services to the environment and conservation in 1998 and DBE in 2008. She is married with three daughters and lives near Cirencester when not in Cambridge. She loves walking, reading, classical music and opera.