joy magnetism: "British Culture with an American Accent"

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Monday, June 6, 2011

"British Culture with an American Accent"

Magnet #1200 - Agecroft Hall

BBC-America's @anglophenia, one of my favorite blogs, did a great series of US/UK culture comparison posts last week that had me giggling in more or less agreement:

Loved this series, because it's one of those fun debates that are never-ending, depending on who you're talking to.

What's that have to do with today's magnet from my sisters and BIL, you ask?

Well, Agecroft Hall is a Tudor manor sitting on the James River riverbank in Richmond, Virginia. But we're not talking architecturally-speaking Tudor, like that house in Salisbury, NC, that my sister loves that was built in the last 50 years.

No, it's an authentic Tudor-era manor built in the 1400s, that some wealthy American dude from Virginia bought at auction in the 1920s.

And then had it shipped over from its original foundation in Lancashire, England.

I mean, it's common practice for folks to go abroad and have stuff shipped back. It happens all the time, right? A statue or ceiling frieze here, a mantelpiece or a chapel there. And, while I understand it's not the entire estate, it's still a vast majority of the original estate that was purchased and moved.

We're talking someone had to dismantle it, crate it up, ship it across the Atlantic, uncrate it and rebuild a whole manor house. Jeepers.

I can't tell if this is another Great British Thing an American Ruined. Ultimately, I'm torn.

There's a part of me that's glad someone saved it from disrepair, and stopped it from becoming just another set of ruins in England. A part of me that's glad more generations are able to enjoy and learn about the Tudor era, and not have to travel to England to do it, if they can't get there.

But there's another part of me (the part of me that wishes the Met's Temple of Dendur were in its original setting, rather than sitting in a glass-enclosed atrium on the Upper East Side of New York City, and thinks that the Elgin marbles should go back to Greece) that thinks it's such a shame that some American stunted 500 years of history, and replanted it elsewhere.

A friend said something the other week about loving standing on well-worn marble steps. It's true. I'm always saying, one of my favorite things to do is to step where history happened, to walk where so many other feet have walked.

So it begs the question, does it physically matter where on Earth those stairs are, or just that they still exist 500 years later for more people to walk upon?
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