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1 June 2021
A Bank Holiday weekend at a Landmark Trust house got us thinking about Landmark and – women. Without wanting to be absurd or exaggerated, there is no better way to put this: reading through Landmark: A History of Britain in Fifty Buildings by Anna Keay and Caroline Stanford (2015) it was extremely hard to find any mention at all of half the human race. Houses were built by men. We know that women 'ran' them. But they are invisible. Something we have taken for granted all our life was suddenly enraging. We know, for example, that Elizabethan women carried the keys to the larders and pantries, grew the herbs, looked after the family's clothes, and of course bore the children. But where are they now? So this week on the Post: four Landmark houses that remind us, or should, or fail to, that half the human race ever existed. First of all, the first Landmark ever: Church Cottage, Cardiganshire bought by Sir John Smith in 1965 and still available for holidays, details here. But you will search in vain for any mention of the women who lived in it during its one hundred years as a simple domestic dwelling. This is not to denigrate Landmark, which is a totally admirable organisation and in fact, in a far, far larger way does exactly what we try to do at Persephone: rescue the forgotten. It is simply making a plea to remember our female ancestors; while recognising the difficulties of doing so when there is no evidence, no documentation, no monuments or memorials, to remember them by.
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