Arthur Hobhouse

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This article is about the English politician. For the English judge, see Arthur Hobhouse, 1st Baron Hobhouse.
Arthur Hobhouse

Sir Arthur Lawrence Hobhouse (15 February 1886 – 20 January 1965) was a long-serving English local government Liberal politician, who is best remembered as the architect of the system of National parks of England and Wales.

Hobhouse was the son of the prominent Liberal politician and MP Henry Hobhouse and the brother of peace activist, prison reformer, and religious writer Stephen Henry Hobhouse. Arthur Hobhouse was educated at Eton College, St Andrews University and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in Natural Sciences. At Cambridge, he was a Cambridge Apostle and a member of the Cambridge University Liberal Club, becoming Secretary in 1906[1] and was also the lover of John Maynard Keynes and Duncan Grant.[2][3] He practised as a solicitor until the outbreak of World War I, when he joined the British Expeditionary Force. After the War he joined the Claims Commission, dealing with claims against Allied forces in the Abbeville area, and rose to the rank of Staff Captain.

Returning to civilian life, Hobhouse took to farming on a family estate in Somerset. He was elected Member of Parliament for Wells at the 1923 General Election but lost the seat in 1924, failing to regain it in 1929. He was elected to Somerset County Council in 1925, became an alderman in 1934, and was chairman of the council from 1940 to 1947.

In 1945 he was appointed by Lewis Silkin, the Minister of Town and Country Planning, to chair the National Parks Committee. The resulting Hobhouse Report was the basis for the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. Of the twelve parks it proposed, ten were implemented in the 1950s, while the remaining two, the New Forest and the South Downs, were proposed in 1999 and finally designated in 2005 and 2009 respectively.

Hobhouse was knighted in 1942. Sir Arthur also served as chair of the Rural Housing Committee 1942–1947, was pro-chancellor of Bristol University, and was both chairman and president of the County Councils Association (now part of the Local Government Association).

His son, Paul, married Penelope Chichester-Clark.


  • Obituary: 'Sir Arthur Hobhouse: A long record of public service', The Times, January 21, 1965
  1. ^ "Secretaries | Keynes Society". Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  2. ^ "From Clapham to Bloomsbury: a genealogy of morals, by Gertrude Himmelfarb". Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  3. ^ Holroyd, Michael (1995). Lytton Strachey. Vintage. pp. 108–110. 

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Bruford
Member of Parliament for Wells
Succeeded by
Robert Arthur Sanders