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Head of Zeus
Mountain Republic
Mountain Republic: A Lake District Parish - Eighteen Men, The Lake Poets and the National Trust Philippa Harrison

An affectionate but meticulously researched history of one of the most beautiful and best-loved corners of England – Crosthwaite Parish, nestling deep within the mountains and valleys of the Lake District.

'A unique contribution to English history' Hunter Davies

'A delightful, refreshingly written book, attentive to social detail and telling the only story that matters – history' Simon Jenkins

'A wonderful book' Margaret Drabble

'A completely fresh perspective on the Lakes and Lake Poets ... I hugely enjoyed it' Andrew Marr

Bounded by the peaks of Scafell, Skiddaw and Helvellyn, and embracing such well-known landmarks as Borrowdale, Derwentwater and Keswick, it lies within the heart of the Lake Poets' landscape and its rugged terrain excites passion in all those who know it.

The Parish also boasts a remarkable history. Its 90 square miles were governed, from medieval times, by eighteen annually chosen 'customary tenants'; ancestors of the people who later prompted Wordsworth's portrayal of the area as 'a perfect Republic of Shepherds and agriculturalists'. His fellow poet Robert Southey lived within the Parish for forty years, was an active parishioner and rests in St Kentigern's churchyard. Here he is given his rightful position as a Lake Poet. In the nineteenth century, the Victorian state killed off the old parish system, sweeping away the egalitarian rule of the Eighteen Men. But a degree of redemption was at hand. Canon Rawnsley, vicar of Crosthwaite from 1883, pledged to defend the Lake District for future generations. So the Parish was at the heart of the creation of the National Trust and blazed a trail for a wider movement to preserve the English landscape.

Writing with a historian's rigour and bearing aloft the banner of the Lake District statesmen, Philippa Harrison has produced a magisterial and fascinating record of a parish with a unique social, cultural and aesthetic resonance in English history.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Modern History
10 Jun 2021 * 736pp * £8.99 * 9781838931841
REVIEWS
'Has there ever been a parish history so well researched, so filled with history and literature, campaigns and causes, and so fascinating? No chance. This is a unique contribution to English history'
Hunter Davies, author of Lakeland
'Stimulating, wide-ranging and full of interest'
Angus J L Winchester, Emeritus Professor of History, Lancaster University
'A delightful, refreshingly written book, attentive to social detail and telling the only story that matters – history'
Simon Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust 2008-2014
'A completely fresh perspective on the Lakes and Lake Poets ... I hugely enjoyed it'
Andrew Marr
'I love Mountain Republic. Both intimate and authoritative, it is a wonderful book'
Margaret Drabble
'This remarkable chronicle introduces the reader to Christian missionaries, Anglo-Saxon and Norse invaders, Scottish royals, local gentry, the 'Eighteen Men', Romantic poets, a succession of clergy with widely and sometimes wildly diverse convictions, and the local people who shaped the land in which they were rooted as the land shaped them. With a rare combination of finely detailed erudition and engaging, elegant, page-turning prose, Philippa Harrison charts the evolution of the Lake District. Anyone who reads her narrative will be richly rewarded'
Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester
'Philippa's perspective as both a local and a historian provides a fascinating take'
This England
'[An] affectionate scholarship grounded in the Lake District parish of Crosthwaite ... [An] appropriately monumental book'
Church Times
Author
Philippa Harrison
Philippa Harrison
Philippa Harrison had a long and distinguished career in publishing: she was chief executive and publisher of Little, Brown UK and the first female president of the Publishers Association. She comes from a long line of farmers in the Furness fells, and lives in the same vicarage that Canon Rawnsley lived in when he co-founded the National Trust.
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