The State of the Historic Environment and Kent

Reculver © David Gill

The Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent has published a report on the State of the Historic Environment for Kent (2021). The report explores the data from the RSA Heritage Index (2020) along the themes of Historic Built Environment; Museums, Archives and Artefacts; Industrial Heritage; Parks and Open Spaces; Landscape and Natural Heritage; and Cultures and Memories. The 316 local authorities in England are then ranked on criteria such as the number of historic buildings, funding, and public participation in heritage.

Six authorities in Kent are recognised for their heritage and are placed in the top 100 for heritage in England. Tunbridge Wells at 36 and Dover at 49 are the highest ranked in Kent.

‘This fascinating report has highlighted the huge potential we have in our county. At the Institute, we are developing new interactive, creative ways of engaging our communities with their heritage, and we look forward to working with partners to bring new stories of our built and green environment to life.’

Professor Catherine Richardson, Director of Kent’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries

The report is available from the University of Kent [DOI].

2021

Press release from the University of Kent.

Keeping up with the US National Park Service

Given my research interest in the inner workings of heritage and conservation organisations (i.e. how they manage themselves and communicate their management role to stakeholders) I used to be a regular reader of the NPS Morning Report. Issued by the Visitor Resource & Protection office, it was very much focused on operational issues, but always gave insights into the way in which the Park operations responded and adapted to different situations and events.

Since the demise of the Morning Report, I now read the weekly NPS Green & Gray Report instead, which is issued by the Office of Communications and is much more focused on wider communication of NPS activities to external audiences as well as internal employees and stakeholder partners.

From an external standpoint, the evolution of the organisation’s management communication has been interesting to see in terms of ‘voice’ and ‘tone’ and of course reflects the NPS’s broader mission for engaging the widest audiences and supporters for the Parks which has grown over the past decade.

The Jewel Tower

The Jewel Tower © David Gill

The Jewel Tower was constructed in 1365 as part of the Royal Palace at Westminster. It stood at the south-west corner of the complex adjacent to Westminster Abbey. From 1869 to 1938 it served as the Weights and Measures Office and in 1941 was damaged by an incendiary device. The tower was repaired in the years following the war, after being placed in the care of the Ministry of Works in 1948. It is now in the care of English Heritage.

The first official guidebook was prepared by A.J. Taylor, the then Assistant Chief Inspector of monuments. It follows the standard format of History followed by description. A fold-out plan was inserted inside the rear cover. A note comments: ‘The purpose of this guide is to provide the visitor to the Jewel Tower with a full account of its history and a description of its different rooms. Those who prefer to save the former to read at leisure will find a shorter historical note exhibited on the ground floor of the tower’.

1956 (2nd ed. 1965; 2nd impress. 1966)

Taylor’s guide continued to be published for over 40 years, appearing as the English Heritage guide though with additional illustrations. Alan Sorrell’s reconstruction of the tower (along with part of the palace) was included on the back cover.

1996 (repr. 2001)

Jeremy Ashbee prepared the new English Heritage red guide (2013). This consists of a tour followed by a history. A number of special features are included. A series of plans are placed inside the read fold-out cover.

2013

Wenlock Priory: guidebooks

2020

The new English Heritage guidebook for the Cluniac priory at Wenlock adopts the new format for the series: a nearly square design that makes it easier to use on site than the previous tall format.

There are two main sections: the tour followed by a history. There are six ‘special features’ (what I would describe as information boxes) that include one on the Cluniac Order, and archaeology at the priory. The all colour guide includes a number of reconstructions, such as one for the chapter house, and an aerial view of the complex. (I miss the drama and atmosphere of an Alan Sorrell reconstruction!) The later history of the priory is included down to its placement in State Guardianship in 1962.

The guide by John McNeill includes a foldout plan inside the back cover, and a labelled photograph of the site on the folded out front cover. Both will help the visitor to understand the different parts of the monastic complex.

1965

The first Ministry guide to the site was by Rose Graham and was entitled ‘The history of the Alien Priory of Wenlock’ (1965). This reproduced her essay from the Journal of the British Archaeological Association (1939).

The World of Disney

My new biography of Dr John Disney, founder of the John Disney Chair of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and benefactor of the Disney Marbles now displayed at the Fitzwilliam Museum, has been published by Archaeopress.

The family’s origins lay at Norton Disney in Lincolnshire where they had settled after the Norman conquest. Disney’s father, the Reverend John Disney, inherited The Hyde near Ingatestone in Essex from Thomas Brand-Hollis. The house contained the Grand Tour collection formed by Brand-Hollis and Thomas Hollis. The Reverend John Disney had met Brand-Hollis through the Unitarian Essex Street Chapel in London where he had ministered after leaving the Church of England.

John Disney inherited The Hyde from his father and presented much of the collection to the University of Cambridge. The objects were described in his Museum Disneianum. Some of the items can be traced back to his wife, Sophia, or uncle (and father-in-law), Lewis Disney-Ffytche, during their time in Naples after they had been forced to flee Paris during the Revolution. Disney-Ffytche had been the owner of Le Désert de Retz, the pleasure gardens near Paris.

Disney himself helped to establish a new museum in Chelmsford through the Chelmsford Philosophical Society. He was a key member of the Essex Archaeological Society.

Contents

1. The Disney family of Lincolnshire

2. The Break with the Church of England

3. Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand

4. The Disney family and Essex

5. The Hyde and its collection

6. Disney and Learned Societies

7. The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge

8. Going for Gold

9. The Disney legacy

The World of Disney: From Antiquarianism to Archaeology (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2020). ISBN 9781789698275.

Who Built Scotland

(2018) [2017 Hardback]

This wonderful series of essays—journeys in the title—transports us from Mousa Broch on Shetland, to Abbotsford in the Borders; from Bell Rock Lighthouse off Angus, to Sweeney’s Bothy on Eigg.

Kathleen Jamie ignites our imagination with her reflection on Geldie Burn, and more specifically Mesolithic sites in their landscape. Her essay on Maggie’s Centre in Fife makes sense of contemporary therapeutic space by comparing this location with the prehistoric site at Links of Noltland on Westray.

Some of the locations are well-known and perhaps to be expected: Calanais (James Robertson), Iona Abbey (Alexander McCall Smith), and Edinburgh Castle (Alistair Moffat). But there are some unexpected gems here: James Robertson in Innerpeffray Library.

I was surproisingly gripped by Alistair Mofffat on Glenlivet Distillery and Inchmyre Prefabs, and James Crawford on Hampden Park and Sullom Voe. They were reminders of how society can leave its mark on the built environment.

James Robertson’s essay on Auld Alloway Kirk not only explores Tam O’ Shanter, but also rural parish churches, for example at Kiltearn and Croick. Alexander McCall Smith reflects on the Italian Chapel on Orkney.

This creative volume provides a range of insights and voices on Scotland’s history.

Guidebooks to the Roman Frontier

1952 [5th impress. 1960]

The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne has had two features on the official Ministry and English Heritage guidebooks of Hadrian’s Wall in their News Bulletin:

David W. J. Gill, ‘Guiding us along the Roman wall’, 69 (September 2020), p. 3

Nick Hodgson, ‘Guiding us along the Roman frontier, Part II’, 70 (December 2020), p. 5

Corbridge (with update); Chesters (with update); Housesteads; Birdoswald; Hadrian’s Wall

Guidebooks by P.K. Baillie Reynolds

Thornton_EH
1951 (2012 reprint)

Paul Kenneth Baillie Reynolds (1896–1973) wrote a number of guidebooks for monuments in state guardianship.

Thetford_MPBW
1956 (repr. 1970)

Baillie Reynolds was educated a Winchester College, and Hertford College, Oxford. His studies were interrupted by service in the Royal Field Artillery (1915–19) when he served in the 4th West Riding (Howitzer) Brigade. On completion of his studies he became a Pelham Student at the British School at Rome (1921–23). He published Thomas Ashby’s notes on the Castra Peregrinorum as well as a study of the troops based there in the Journal of Roman Studies (1923). In 1923 he was made an award by the Craven Fund to continue his research at the British School at Rome; the other awards were made to William A. Heurtley of Oriel College, and C.A. Ralegh Radford of Exeter College.

In 1924 he was appointed Assistant Master, Winchester College, and later the same year Lecturer in Ancient History, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (1924–34) where the principal from 1927 to 1934 was (Sir) Henry Stuart-Jones, a former director of the British School at Rome. Baillie Reynolds published The Vigiles of Imperial Rome (Oxford University Press, 1926). From 1926–29 he directed the excavation of the Roman auxiliary fort at Caerhun (Canovium) to the south of Conwy in north Wales; the final report was published by him in 1938. In 1931 he was responsible for excavating the north gate, and in 1932 the west gate of Verulamium as part of the wider project directed by (Sir) Mortimer and Tessa Wheeler. He was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (1929).

In 1934 he was appointed Inspector of Ancient Monuments for England, Ministry of Works. In 1936 in his capacity as Inspector he supported the proposal to preserve the remains of the Jewry Wall in Leicester that had been excavated by Kathleen Kenyon. In 1935 he was elected to the Council for the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, serving alongside Ralegh Radford.  In 1947 he was one of the people who helped to acquire the Roman site of Wall from the National Trust.

Baillie Reynolds joined the Royal Field Artillery (TA) (1927–39) while he was in Aberystwyth, and during the Second World War served as a Major in the Royal Artillery (1939–45).

In 1954 he became Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Ministry of Works (1954–1961) replacing B.H. St John O’Neil; A.J. Taylor was appointed Assistant Chief Inspector. One of his projects was the intervention at Corfe Castle in 1959 to stabilise the ruins. Another was the restoration of West Kennet Long Barrow and Wayland’s Smithy; he defended his decisions in The Daily Telegraph (28 July 1962) describing the work as ‘no more a “fake” than is the reconstructed Portland Vase’. In 1960 he advised on the restoration of the Claudian aqueduct that ran through the grounds of the British Embassy in Rome. He retired in 1961 and was succeeded by Taylor.

In 1963 he was elected President, Royal Archaeological Institute (1963–1966) succeeding Ralegh Radford. He was made OBE (1950) and CBE (1957). Baillie Reynolds died in 1973.

Obituary: The Times 25 August 1973.

Tilbury Fort: guidebooks

Tilbury_EH_white
1980 (1985, repr. 1987)

The fort at Tilbury was designed to protect the Thames. The 17th century artillery fort was built on the site of a fort constructed by Henry VIII. The first English Heritage guidebook was written by A.D. Saunders, who prepared texts for other artillery forts. This contained the standard format of history and description. A ground plan of the fort was provided in the centre pages.

The fort was transferred from the War Office in 1948 after it had ceased to be used for military purposes. It was opened to the public in 1982.

Tilbury_EH
2004 (rev. repr. 2014)

The replacement English Heritage guide was by Paul Pattison. A colour bird’s eye view of the fort is provided inside the front cover, and colour coded plan inside the back cover. The guide contains a tour of the fort followed by a history.

 

Hadrian’s Wall: official guides

HW_DOE_souvenir
1963 (1969)

A.R. Birley prepared ‘an illustrated guide’ to Hadrian’s Wall in 1963. This supplemented the guides to individual forts on the wall (Chesters, Housesteads) as well as the Stanegate (Corbridge). (See now the English Heritage guide to Birdoswald.) A foldout plan inside the card cover showed key locations between Wallsend and Bowness. There are some excellent reconstructions by Alan Sorrell (including one with an overlay to show the inside of the bath-house).

HW_card_MoW
1970

There was a fold-out MPBW guide to the Wall in 1970.

HW_souv_EH
1987 (3rd ed. 1996)

David J. Breeze prepared the Souvenir Guide to the Roman Wall, which is described inside the cover ass ‘The greatest monument to the Roman occupation of Britain’. Breeze has also prepared the Handbook to the Roman Wall. The guide includes South Shields and Vindolanda, as well as the Roman fort at Maryport on the Cumbrian coast.

HW_EH_red
2006

The souvenir guide was replaced by Breeze’s ‘Red Guide’ to Hadrian’s Wall. The tour goes from west to east and includes non English Heritage sites such as Maryport, Vindolanda, Wallsend and South Shields.