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  • Who Owns England?

  • How We Lost Our Green and Pleasant Land, and How to Take It Back
  • By: Guy Shrubsole
  • Narrated by: Malk Williams
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (86 ratings)

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Summary

Who owns England?

Behind this simple question lies this country’s oldest and best kept secret. This is the history of how England’s elite came to own our land - from aristocrats and the church to businessmen and corporations - and an inspiring manifesto for how to open up our countryside once more. 

This audiobook has been a long time coming. Since 1086, in fact. For centuries, England’s elite have covered up how they got their hands on millions of acres of our land by constructing walls, burying surveys and, more recently, sheltering behind offshore shell companies. But with the dawn of digital mapping and the Freedom of Information Act, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to hide. 

Trespassing through tightly guarded country estates, ecologically ravaged grouse moors and empty Mayfair mansions, writer and activist Guy Shrubsole has used these 21st century tools to uncover a wealth of never-before-seen information about the people who own our land, to create the most comprehensive map of land ownership in England that has ever been made public.

From secret military islands to tunnels deep beneath London, Shrubsole unearths truths concealed since the Domesday Book about who is really in charge of this country - at a time when Brexit is meant to be returning sovereignty to the people. Melding history, politics and polemic, he vividly demonstrates how taking control of land ownership is key to tackling everything from the housing crisis to climate change - and even halting the erosion of our very democracy.

It’s time to expose the truth about who owns England - and finally take back our green and pleasant land.

©2019 Guy Shrubsole (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Formidable work." (Robert Macfarlane)

What listeners say about Who Owns England?

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Packed with useful information.

This is a great book packed with information everyone should know so they can understand the dynamics and who owns what across England. If it were re edited taking out the very left wing bias and represented with just the facts I believe it would be much more powerful and could encourage greater widespread support for more transparency. I am not sure I agree with the conclusions of taking back all the land and redistributing it amongst the masses but the fact that only a small number of people own a large amount of land could be useful to pressure them to re wild what they have for the benefit of animals, plants, insects and the population and be a one part of a solution to climate change at least in this country. Banning grouse shooting and re wilding the 550,000 acres should be a law asap.

10 people found this helpful

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Essential

Great read, appears hugely well researched and shows that things could be better for all

9 people found this helpful

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Fantastic book, well read

It was a fantastic book with an lot of information all well referenced.
Might be worth skipping the last chapter as it's endnotes and difficult to follow.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent and important

I was fascinated and amazed by this book and have thought about it a lot in the months since I read / listened to it. I was quite incensed by the fact that the land isn't looked after by the people who own it, especially as they own it on such tenuous grounds. It answered a lot of questions that I didn't know I needed to ask. Such an important and interesting book, I highly recommend it.

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Lost me at about the MOD part

Tree hugging nonsense with an agenda for a particular agenda. I wanted an un biased account of who owns the Uk but don’t waste your time or money

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Very important info but repetitive throughout

A lovely idea but people with money won't give up privilege so easily. I can never see these suggestions becoming reality. What people say and do are very different.

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Interesting BUT!

There is a lot of interesting information in the book. However, the whining left wing political slant does make it a annoying to listen to at times. It also cause Guy to make an error when he claims Dr Breaching closed the Varsity line. He didn't, it closed as a through route in 1968 under a Labour government. This caused me to doubt other parts of the book.

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A must read

Well researched and presented. An evidence based work showing, amongst other things, the monstrous lie that focused “take back control” solely on borders. Ownership of England is narrowly within the old and new money classes but more is owned by off shore corporations and foreign nationals. Wither our control when governments care so little?

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Left wing, republican political rant

Thought I was buying a factual book & although the 3 hours I managed was full of them, the anti class, anti royal, anti monied theme that ran through it was to much & spoilt the book

5 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Mira Krishnan
  • Mira Krishnan
  • 13-06-19

Beneath the ideological invective, fascinating

This book has almost grandiose at times, highly partisan ideas that are interwoven with the facts, sometimes in a way that borders on the absurd. With that being said, it is a fascinating history of real estate law and theory in the English world, and it is illuminating for me as an American, to understand how different UK history is in this regard than US history (the book is decently accessible to me as an American, although there is some historical knowledge I did not have that I had to cross-reference to fully understand Mr. Shrubsole). It raises some really interesting historical models such as gavelkind and how these models affect multi-generational wealth. One wishes that a similar history of this quality were available in the US, highlighting both the ways in which we are more transparent, and in which this issue is not holistically understood here, either. The personality of it, as a scientist and one time student journalist, is also charming - I really appreciate how Mr. Shrubsole makes the history of acquiring and unearthing this data deeply personal. It is well narrated and the narrator is well suited to the topic.