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Who Owns England?

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  22 reviews
'A formidable, brave and important book' Robert Macfarlane

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, and an inspiring manifesto for how to open up our countryside once more.

This book has been a long time coming. Since 1086, in fact. For centuries, England's
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published May 2nd 2019 by William Collins
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Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
This book appealed to me because I had read and thoroughly enjoyed The Poor Had No Lawyers: Who Owns Scotland. It was probably only a matter of time before someone looked to the rest of Great Britain. Guy Shrubsole’s writing style is less formal than Wightman’s. He writes in what I would term Sunday supplement style, ie chatty and easy to read, not too taxing.

Shrubsole looks at major landowners in turn - the Church, the Crown, the aristocracy, the MOD, nature and land conservation agencies, and
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Having thoroughly enjoyed the land law module of my law degree well over a decade ago due to its complexities and nuances I was eager to learn more about this fascinating area, and this book seemed like the ideal opportunity to do so. Guy Shrubsole uncovers how for centuries the wealthy have undertaken nefarious acts in order to get their hands on the land they desired. Open your mind to the fact that by changing how land ownership operates we can begin to address some of the crises of our time: ...more
Tariq Mahmood
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating read, who actually owns England? From the aristocracy to the offshore corporations based in tax havens who are involved in land banking, I didn't know who to despise more. But what really offended me were the agricultural subsidies given to big states. I mean I am a mere tenant of a tiny house who has to PAY the council hundreds of pounds every year while these landed states are getting hundreds of thousands of subsidies instead. Why have they not been taxed like the rest of us ...more
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2019
The question, who owns England? is such a simple question. And yet the answer to this is one of our country’s oldest and best-kept secrets. And the keepers of those secrets? Our ancient aristocracy and elite, who between them own vast swathes of our land. So much so, that only 1% (yes one per cent) of the population of the country owns 50% of the land. The Land Registry only knows for definite around 83% of the actual owners of the land of England.

To understand how we are in this situation you
Sophy H
I had been waiting to read this for some time, and in a telling manner, so has most of the general public (there has been a waiting list for reservation of this book from my local library for months!!)

As I already suspected before reading, the rich toffs with the money and the power and the influence own waayyy more land than they should!!! As Guy Shrubsole points out, since Norman the Conqueror started his fuckery back in 1066, the division and ownership of land has never been the same since.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly thorough and compelling account of how England's system of hereditary landownership and a landlord class is deeply inequitable (it's the same here in Ireland and many, many other nations). A must read for anyone buried under absurd rent or mortgage payments or anyone concerned about the environment.
Martin Empson
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really important book. Many on the left, from Karl Marx onward have sought to understand how capitalism developed and what this meant for the land and its people. But who came to own the land as a result of that process has profound consequences for people today. Guy Shrubsole's book is written with humour and anger and offers a viable alternative. It is an essential read and I highly recommend it.

My full review on the blog:
Kate Vane
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In Who Owns England, Guy Shrubsole describes how his campaigning interests – from environmental damage on agricultural land to housing shortages in London – led him to wonder who owns the land in England. Getting an answer proved difficult which made him all the more determined to pursue the subject. He and data journalist Anna Powell-Smith have detailed their research on the Who Owns England blog and he expands on the subject in this book.

He begins with the historical context and the Domesday
Herwin Tros
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shrubsole tells the story over ownership of Englands soil that was totally unknown to me. It gives a - by times - shocking insight in how the country functions (or dysfunctions if you will) on the terrain of housing, farming, roaming, etc. Also it gives insight in the inheritance of feudalism a mere 1000 years after William the Conqueror 'made' England. There hasn't been much change... Shrubsole gives hope en guidance, maybe a little too much in the way of a dreamer, but, maybe it is necessary ...more
Daniel Lambauer
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good book that is an easy ready even though it took me longer to reas than I would have liked. Becomes a bit repetitive in parts, but has good thoughts on land reform and argues convincingly why this is such an urgent topic to tackle...
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Land reform is something I hadn't given much thought to before, but Guy Shrubsole really won me over with this book.

Guy's passion for the environment and social justice fuels this polemic; through each chapter he covers another type of land ownership, from the aristocracy, to the state, to the Anglican Church, to corporate entities. Until I read this book, I'd never considered how who owns land can affect climate change, biodiversity, economic inequality, the welfare state, or our own freedoms.
Simon Mcleish
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
As an analysis of land ownership in England, it delivers what the title promises. Driven by righteous anger at the exclusivity and secrecy of England's land ownership, it is passionate but can feel a bit like being hit repeatedly over the head with a blunt instrument.
Mar 04, 2019 marked it as maybe
Willy Marz Thiessam
Great book. Its more of a discussion paper though rather than rough and refined statistics. Here are some notes I've added to his chart that can be found on page 267:

Crown - 1.4% - hard to gage the true extent as much of it is interspered with relatives, and personal ownership. Most environmental initiatives and legislation affecting land are controled to some extent through royal rights to the seabeds and to their rights to influence government policy that might affect their holdings. The
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So much research has gone into this book and it is packed with information. The secrecy of land ownership in England is a fascinating topic, especially when you read about the history of how it was/ wasn't shared out and how it continues to be misused. I found the information regarding common land and glebe land quite a revelation. I love the idea of making more allotments available too. There are so many important points made in this book, I hope it makes a difference. Thank you to Net Galley, ...more
Christopher Wickens
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Eye opening

This book presents a compelling argument that many of society's biggest problems (skyrocketing house prices, inequality, ecological breakdown, pollution, flooding, homelessness, poverty, lack of green space) ultimately are a result of centuries of land theft by the wealthy and subsequent mismanagement of land by governments. At the end is a list of actions that must be enacted in order to take back control of our land. A must read.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book everyone in England should read because we really do need to do something about all the tax dodging and scrounging (farm subsidies) of big landowners and the super rich. The author has no problem with ordinary homeowning, which represents a miniscule portion of land ownership and his proposed reforms seem reasonable and long overdue.
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating insight into who owns land in England. It an easy read, highlighting the many concerns and downright injustices around land ownership in this country, and shown what could be done to address them.
Mark Pedlar
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring and comprehensive manifesto.
Stephen Tubbs
Hard-hitting and let us hope it finds its mark.
Nick Sanders
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
The facts in themselves were not unknown to me, but the enormity of all those facts and factoids together... An impressive work of financial journalism.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brilliant expose of the current state of land ownership and power structures in Britain, from the Crown to the corporations and everybody in between, and how it's destroyed any chance at social, economic and environmental equality in the UK until there is fundamental reforms... Of exactly the kind that Shrubsole lays out in the final chapter. A necessary book for today's England.
Cal Desmond-Pearson
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Aug 14, 2019
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Jan 27, 2020
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Jul 04, 2019
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Nov 24, 2019
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Sep 06, 2019
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Guy Shrubsole works as a campaigner for Friends of the Earth and has written for numerous publications including the Guardian and New Statesman. Who Owns England? (2019) is his first book.