Unlocking the Heritage of East Anglia


How do you discover heritage sites in a region? English Heritage produced a series of small booklets entitled Heritage Unlocked. Each volume provides a short guide to free EH sites in the  region. The volume for the East of England (2004) has two main sections: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire; and Norfolk and Suffolk. There are additional features on ‘The coastal defences of East Anglia’; ‘Monastic houses in the eastern counties’; ‘The windmills of eastern England’; ‘Writers and artists of the east of England’; and ‘Airfields in the eastern region’. There is a final section on English Heritage ‘paying sites’ for the same region. The guidebook concludes with a bibliography and relevant websites.

For Suffolk there are entries (with images and in some cases reconstructions) for monastic sites such as Bury St Edmunds Abbey (see guidebook) and Leiston Abbey, and for Norfolk Caister Roman site and Baconsthorpe Castle (that features on the cover of the guide). There is far more information than the short description in the English Heritage members’ handbook.

1955 (1962)
1955 (1962)

The origins of the guide lies in the Office of Works Illustrated Regional Guide for East Anglia and the Midlands (no. 3) by Lord Harlech [The Rt. Hon. W. Ormsby-Gore MP] (1936). The second edition appeared in 1955, and this is the found impression with amendments (1962) selling for 7 shillings. It covers the main chronological periods: Prehistoric; Roman; Anglo-Saxon; Mediaeval; Renaissance and Later. Each site has a short description with hours of admission and the admission fee. Burgh Castle appears under Suffolk (as it still does in Pevsner). A map of the region showing the location of the sites is bound inside the back cover.

Author: David Gill

David Gill is Honorary Professor in the Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent, and Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History and an Academic Associate in SISJAC at UEA; Professor of Archaeological Heritage.

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