Sir Robert Hunter was one of the co-founders of The National Trust. He was a lawyer with an office at 6 Lincoln’s Inn Fields (a building more famous recently for being “The Apprentice House 2013” in this year’s season of the BBC talent/light entertainment show). The Trust was created in part to buy up public spaces, preserve them and keep them open them to the public.
The Fields were closed to the general public during the time Hunter was a lawyer here in the 1880s and 90s. As there were no residents – the area was already all offices no one really got to use the space. Given the severe overcrowding of this part of London at that time, this grated with Hunter. He fought an unsuccessful campaign to open up the Fields prior to the final successful push in 1893-4 (leading to the Act that governs the Fields today). Hunter wrote an eloquent, passionate article for English Illustrated Magazine in 1894 to urge the case for the opening up of the Fields. I am indebted to Ben Cowell of the National Trust for bringing this wonderful period piece to my attention.
Hunter does a skillful rhetorical job of both praising the trustees for saving the Fields from development over the years and also pointing out the social injustice of a huge private space in a city that desperately needed public parks. The full article is here Sir Robert Hunter on LIF
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