The National Trust has commissioned writer and philosopher Julian Baggini to spend a week at the White Cliffs of Dover, much of which is cared for by the Trust, exploring through verse what this much loved stretch of the Kent coast says about the UK.
Based at the world famous and iconic South Foreland Lighthouse, he will be delving into why the White Cliffs have become so wrapped up with our national identity and the role they play in creating our sense of belonging.
Julian Baggini, who co-founded The Philosophers’ Magazine, said: “For millions of Britons living across the world the White Cliffs is a clear symbol of Britain, in much the same way that the Statue of liberty has defined America. Even if we’ve never been to or seen the White Cliffs of Dover there is a collective sense that they matter.
“I want to get a real sense of what the White Cliffs of Dover mean for British people, including those for whom the cliffs were the first sight of the country, which would become their adopted home.
“But it’s not just about symbolism. Many important episodes in our national story have taken place on this stretch of coast, so I also want to look at how its local history has shaped our national history. And I also want to talk to people about home some contemporary debates, such as fishing and immigration, are being played out here.
“My suspicion is that if we look, there is an insightful portrait of the nation to be found engraved in the chalky cliffs of East Kent.”
Julian was born in Folkestone, his mother is from Dover and his father is an Italian whose first sight of his adoptive land in the early 1960’s was the White Cliffs of Dover.
The National Trust is currently trying to raise £1.2 million to acquire a stretch of the most famous segment of the White Cliffs above the Port of Dover.
Launched in late June*, the White Cliffs of Dover appeal has seen more than ten thousand people supporting the campaign to acquire this missing link: the National Trust already owns five miles of the White Cliffs.
During his residency Julian will be blogging and capturing on camera his thoughts and observations and will be talking to the people that live and work in vicinity of the White Cliffs, taking time out to travel to France for a fresh perspective and debate their meaning with local experts, trying to appreciate why the coast has defined our sense of collective and personal identity.
A book of Julian’s observations and musings from his time at the White Cliffs of Dover will be published in late September this year.