Camilla Swift Camilla Swift

Four difficult women who fought to preserve the English countryside

Thanks to Octavia Hill, Beatrix Potter, Pauline Dower and the ‘arrogant fanatic’ Sylvia Sayer, England’s wilder spaces remain relatively unspoilt

Portrait of Octavia Hill, after John Singer Sargent. [Getty Images]

One thing that Covid lockdown made us appreciate was the importance of being outdoors. When we were finally allowed into them, national and local parks became chockfull and many people rediscovered that being in the open had health benefits.

How timely, then, that Matthew Kelly has written an account of four redoubtable rural activists: Octavia Hill, Beatrix Potter, Sylvia Sayer and Pauline Dower.

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