Who do we want to immortalise?

Fawcett statue 2

The memorials we erect say more about us than they do about the past, writes Duncan Wilson, as Historic England tries to start a national debate

England has an extraordinary legacy of statues and memorials, but they represent ways of commemorating – usually a particular type of person or event – that belong to other ages.

Not that there haven’t been changes in the past. The First World War memorials to ordinary soldiers marked a significant departure from the tradition of memorialising the great and the good. But taking historic memorials and statues as a group, they present us with some challenges to our values and beliefs today. There are many more men than women and few people of colour, yet we are an increasingly diverse society that wants to see diversity celebrated and acknowledged in public places.

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