British history may escape Kashgar's wrecking ball

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One small old building in Kashgar, at least, may escape destruction. It is the former home of the British consul, a diplomat who lived for 28 years in this remote, pivotal outpost, playing a leading role in the Great Game.

Sir George Macartney’s home is now hidden behind a soulless concrete bock of a hotel, the Qini Bagh – or Chinese garden, in the local Uighur tongue.

The name is no coincidence. It stands on the spot where Lady Macartney, brought to Kashgar as a 21-year-old bride, created a rose garden that gained fame as one of the most delightful spots in western China.

The house is now closed, used only for receptions on the occasion of a visit by some distinguished guest. Faded curtains keep out prying eyes. But the interior has scarcely changed since the days when the Macartneys played host in its spacious rooms with their polished wooden floors to such adventurers and explorers as Sir Aurel Stein, Albert von Le Cog and even The Times correspondent of the time, G.E. Morrison.

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