Octavia Hill, who died a century ago this August, believed that access to beauty, heritage and Nature was a human right. Before co-founding the National Trust in 1895, she dedicated her life to social reform. She ran a pioneering network of tenanted houses, providing clean and decent living accommodation for those in desperate poverty. But she was concerned, in her own words, “not only by poverty but by ugliness”. She understood that people’s lives are enriched or impoverished not only by money or its absence, but by beauty too.

This was an idea ahead of its time. Indeed it is an idea we are ...


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