Regaining Paradise

Englishness and the Early Garden City Movement
Meacham, Standish
Date published: 
May 1999

This engaging book considers the British social reform movememtn at the beginning of the twentieth century through the lens of the garden city movement, a plan to build new communities on open land that would provide a healthy, aesthetically pleasing environment free from overcrowding and pollution. Standish Meacham argues that although the garden city movement initially embodied radical schemes for the reformation of society, it became in the hands of its upper-middle-class proponents a device for maintaining the established order in the face of threatening social change.

Meacham shows that even socialist architects closely associated with the movement and its most famous Pre-war projects at Letchworth and Hampstead relied for inspiration on the villages of England's pre-industrial squirearchy. The result was the reaffirmation of a particular concept of Englishness that influenced both social policy and urban design.