Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
Recalling William Beveridge at Avebury
With December 2012 seeing the seventieth anniversary of the Beveridge Report, the blueprint of the welfare state, it can be recalled that the author had at that time a long association with Avebury. It came about in 1928, with the rental and eventual purchase of a cottage and outbuildings on Green Street by Beveridge’s partner Jessy Mair. The cottage was extended, adjacent land was purchased from Lord Avebury and a neighbouring farm, and John Rawlins routed electricity to the property from his garage which then stood within the henge near the Cove stones. Thus it was that each summer in an Avebury hay loft converted into a study, sat at the desk he had inherited from his father, William Beveridge worked on various influential reports and publications from unemployment insurance to rationing for over a decade. The Green Street cottage was turned over to RAF officers serving at Yatesbury during the Second World War, and sold when peace eventually returned. It is not known how often, if at all, that Beveridge visited his desk in the hay loft in this period, during which of course he published the founding text of the welfare state in 1942. That same year Beveridge and Jessy married in London.
Lord Beveridge (1879 –1963) was an economist, a leading authority on unemployment, and Director of the London School of Economics. He is best known for publishing Social Insurance and Allied Services (1942), otherwise known as the Beveridge Report.
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