A Home on the Rock

A need to see the White Cliffs of Dover as a symbol that reflects a new found positive patriotism is the conclusion of a new pamphlet by philosopher Julian Baggini published today.

“I want people to see the Dover chalk and think of liberty, hospitality and freedom,” he concludes. But he worries that they can also be seen as “a citadel wall” which he claims “would be an immense loss to our national reputation”.

As part of its ongoing fundraising appeal to buy an iconic stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover, the National Trust commissioned Julian Baggini to spend a week based at the cliffs in August to examine their role in shaping our national identity.

In the introduction Julian Baggini says: “The White Cliffs of Dover are among the symbols which are formative of Britain’s national identity.

“If they stand for us, then what we see in them we will also see in ourselves.  And so we should make sure that we are happy with what see in the chalk.”

During his week at the White Cliffs, Julian Baggini spent time unpacking their meaning by talking to local people, delving into their history and thinking about the role they have played in shaping our image of ourselves and how they have influenced the world’s view of Britain.

Download ‘A Home on the Rock’

Introducing our White Cliffs of Dover writer – Julian Baggini

The White Cliffs of Dover loom large in our national story.  They have come to symbolise, for many, the spirit and nature of the British character.  These imposing chalky cliffs have also played a crucial part in a sense of journey and the adventure of travel or that feeling of coming home and stepping on to terra firma.  For millions of Brits living across the world the White Cliffs are a clear symbol of British identity, in the same way that the statue of liberty has defined American values.

Writer and philosopher Julian Baggini will be spending a week at the White Cliffs of Dover, much of which is cared for by the National Trust, unpicking the meaning of this much loved stretch of the Kent coast.  He will be delving into why they have become so wrapped up with our national identity.  How can one place become so intrinsically linked to defining our sense of belonging?

As an Island nation we’re never that far from the coast, and he’ll also be looking at what our relationship with the coast says about us.

Julian 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 unpack their meaning with local experts.