Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The British are so very British

One of the places I went this fall was Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

It is a UNESCO world heritage site, a fully functioning community, and a remarkably well-preserved town that retains most of the qualities of the original British model colonial settlement.

It was first settled in 1753, when German, Swiss and Montbéliardian French immigrants were brought to Nova Scotia under a British colonization plan. A rigid gridiron plan was superimposed on the slope of the steep hill rising up from the harbour. The new settlement was named Lunenburg after the Royal House of Brunswick-Luneberg, from which the Hanoverian kings of England were descended.

Lunenburg was the second British colonial 'model' town plan, after Halifax (1749). The model town was an important aspect of imperial policy for the British, to provide the functional space thought necessary for the smooth working of a colony. The Lunenburg plan (1753) incorporated all the principles of the model town: geometrically regular streets and blocks; the allocation of public spaces; an allowance for fortifications; and a distinction between urban and non-urban areas. Of these all but the fortifications survive in present-day Lunenburg.

So. Why the title: "The British are so very British?"

I remember once long ago hearing Jack Parr comment that he imagined that British women wore tweed nightgowns.

Please note: "A rigid gridiron plan was superimposed on the slope of the steep hill rising up from the harbor." -- An architectural version of a tweed nightgown.

It was not architecture adapted to the site but a site adapted to a gridiron plan.  Like, later, the British soldiers who marched in formation as the American rebels mowed them down from the bushes.

But it is beautiful.

Sometimes there is nothing whatsoever wrong about being very British.

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