While conservation had not in the early postwar years yet entered the mainstream of planning practice, it is notable that one of the most distinguished participants in the post-war conservation process had himself expressed some ambivalence about its purpose. John Summerson published in 1948, as part of his collection of essays on architecture Heavenly Mansions, a lecture that he had delivered in 1946 as part of a course at Bristol University.1 In this essay, ‘The Past in the Future’, he began by observing that while preservation ‘had been held a worthy thing by some few people in every generation since Alberti (c. 1450)’, and that ‘Today, a large part of public opinion endorses its propriety’, nevertheless ‘The subject is, however, subtle and delicate, susceptible of fatuity, hypocrisy, sentimentality of the ugliest sort and downright obstructionism. In its worst form preservation may be a resentful fumbling, a refusal to understand the living shape of things or to give things shape.’ In this passage Summerson is expressing the uneasiness which those who see architecture as a living art feel when confronted with the extremism of the archconservationists and the nostalgic tendency of popular taste. One can only guess what his feelings might have been when faced with the conservation triumphalism of recent years.