In his latest column, High Peak MP Robert Largan talks about the importance of historic landmarks and why we should continue to care for them for future generations.
Last week I attended the unveiling of a statue of William Cavendish, the Fifth Duke of Devonshire, who built Buxton Crescent and invested so much into the town during the late eighteenth century.
The statue was commissioned and donated by the late Bill Barratt and his wife Sheila, who was quite rightly part of the unveiling ceremony.
After the recent debates around statues and their place in our culture, it was lovely to see a new statue being erected locally.
Our history does so much to define who we are as a place and a community. High Peak’s roots help to connect us to the generations that preceded us throughout the centuries. There are injustices in our past that must be faced with honesty, but that should not stop us from celebrating all the good that has been done by previous generations.
The recently restored Buxton Crescent is a testament to our Georgian ancestors who built the Buxton we know and love today as well countless other architectural treasures across the county, including Chatsworth House. People come from all over to visit and see these stunning buildings and to learn more about our past, while also spending money locally and creating more jobs.
There is no doubt that the Cavendish family have played a key role in shaping the history and the landscape of Buxton. Just as the Howard family (the Dukes of Norfolk) have played a similar role in Glossop, where I live. Indeed, it’s been lovely to see the recent Heritage Open Days at Victoria Hall this month, another much loved local historical building.
I believe it is important to conserve our heritage and our shared history, both in our architecture and in our public art.
There are, of course, aspects of our public art that no longer fit with who we are as a country today. The statue of Edward Colston in Bristol will certainly not be missed. But we should resist attempts to completely sanitise our history. Instead, we should face it honestly, warts and all, and learn from it.
Tearing down all of our historic public art will not make us a more just society. It will only weaken our sense of shared identity and undermine our knowledge of history.
That is why it is so important to add to our public art, showing how our history has shaped the things we take pride in and helping us to preserve our heritage for future generations.