Historian visits the Triumphal Arch

An american authoress, Prof. Stephanie Barczewski, a specialist in modern British history at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA, visited Parlington last weekend to learn about the Triumphal Arch for a new book she is undertaking. We met and discussed what I know of the history of the monument and the reasons for it being built. Details of the structure are on the main site here.

Stephanie’s bio on the Clemson web site states, “Dr. Barczewski’s current research will examine the historical dimensions of globalization, through an exploration of the visible remnants of Britain’s global history that are to be found throughout the British Isles and the former empire. By taking this global perspective, she hopes to overcome some of the parochial and nationalistic tendencies that have traditionally coloured the writing of European – and particularly British – history. These tendencies have led to the creation of national narratives with which we are all familiar and which retain considerable validity, but it is time to provide parallel narratives acknowledging that human beings have long been citizens of the wider world as well as of individual countries. Altars dedicated to Persian gods in a Roman shrine along Hadrian’s Wall; plasterwork native Americans on the ceiling of an Elizabethan country house; a stone tub tucked behind a shop in rural Dorset in which flax was soaked to make ropes for ships that sailed to all corners of the globe — all are indications that the pre-twentieth-century British world was not the insular place that we often imagine it to be. Instead, it was a world strongly influenced by a variety of global forces, just as it is today.”

Previous publications by Stephanie include: Titanic: A Night Remembered (Hambledon and London/Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Myth and National Identity in Nineteenth-century Britain: The Legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood (Oxford University Press, 2000).

Our discussion about the arch, naturally centred on the inscription, “Liberty in N. America Triumphant MDCCLXXXIII” and I suggested that the feeling in the regions of England was sympathetic to the colonialist cause. I had developed this belief over time having studied the politics of the period when researching the history of Parlington. I was more than pleased to discover that my view was re-inforced by observations made by the Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan in a speech to the Army and Navy Club in the States. Featured on YouTube, the statement is at the end of the clip.

Following the discussion about the arch, we took a limited tour of the site of the old hall and I explained what I know of the demise of Parlington.

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