Saturday 25 October 2014 – 2.30-4.40pm
Subject: The Presence of the Past: Richard Jefferies, the Middle Ridgeway and landscape change
Speaker: Prof. Patrick Dillon
Venue: Liddington Village Hall, Church Road, Liddington, Near Swindon SN4 0HB
Richard Jefferies’ lifetime spans a period of intensification in agriculture, culminating in ‘High Farming’, followed by one of depression. The ups and downs of farming and the associated impacts on wildlife and the countryside are recurring themes in his writing. Viewed from the perspective of environmental history, Jefferies’ works can be seen as a commentary on an ever changing relationship between economy and ecology, land-use and wildlife. In this lecture Patrick will offer an insight into the downland landscapes of Jefferies’ country and the changes that have taken place subsequently. The agriculturally-dominating influence of the London market, the relationship between ploughland and grassland, land holding, and countryside sports, emerge from the historical record as the chief forces that have created the landscape we see today and the wildlife that inhabits it. In exploring these themes, he will draw on a book, ‘Middle Ridgeway’, written jointly with Eric Jones, and illustrated with landscape paintings by his daughter Anna Dillon. Publication of the book is anticipated in 2015.
Patrick Dillon is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Exeter. He joined the Richard Jefferies Society in 1982 and was formerly a member of its Council. He gave a presentation on ‘The Ecology of Jefferies Landscapes’ at the Literary Festival in 1998 celebrating the 150th anniversary of Richard Jefferies’ birth.