The report builds on the data brought together in the RSA Heritage Index (2020). It identifies four key heritage themes in Kent: coastal heritage; Christian heritage; historic houses; and natural heritage and historic landscapes. These themes embrace elements such as the Roman forts of the Saxon Shore; Dover Castle; the artillery forts of Henry VIII; coastal resorts; the UNESCO World Heritage site of Canterbury; the cathedral city of Rochester; historic houses including Knole and Chartwell; and the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Three case studies relating to local authorities are presented: Canterbury, Dover, and Folkestone and Hythe. These show how each of the areas has been able to use its heritage assets to develop its tourism economy, and to attract significant funding from the NLHF.
A summary of the key themes of heritage strategies from local authorities across Kent is provided to indicate how local heritage assets are perceived as part of their local communities.
A consideration of the social benefits of heritage includes a reflection on the UK Government’s Levelling-Up agenda and its interaction with the heritage sector.
The economic benefits of heritage are underlined by the scale of NLHF awards made to projects in Kent, as well as the value of tourism, in part driven by heritage attractions and assets. Heritage projects in Kent were awarded over £79 million in grants from NLHF from 2013 to 2020. The largest amounts were for £13.7 million for the Canterbury Journey awarded to Canterbury Cathedral, £4.8 million for Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, £4.6 million for the Maison Dieu in Dover, £4.6 million for the Sheerness Dockyard Church project, and £3.4 million for Chartwell.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major fall in income from tourism for the county from £4.1 billion in 2019 to £1.6 billion in 2020. This included a fall of 61 per cent on day trips, and 60 per cent on overnight trips. This had an impact on employment in the tourism sector accounting for a drop of 39 per cent to 50,026 individuals. The fall in income due to the pandemic is particularly noticeable for Canterbury with a loss of over £300 million, while Medway and Thanet both saw losses over around £200 million.
The report reflects on the challenges facing heritage in Kent. In particular, it considers the way that the public have been engaging with built heritage, museums, and archives. Solutions include integrating the historic built environment with related objects and documents that can be found in museums and archives within the county.
In 1385 the English army under King Richard II sacked three of the monasteries along the line of Dere Street: these included Dryburgh and Melrose. The western entrance to the abbey church was rebuilt in the 15th century in part due to the award of properties by Richard III.
A window would have been placed immediately above the doorway.
I have just arrived back in China for one of my regular trips in my role as Confucius Institute director for Heriot-Watt University. The sheer scale of heritage sites, cultural parks and the effect that scale has on heritage management practice never ceases to fascinate me particularly from the air as I arrive in Beijing. Sadly I didn’t have my camera to hand on this trip as the plane banked around the city from north to south to bring me in to the new Daxing airport, but the visibility was good enough to again identify stretches of the Great Wall to the north, and then a number of urban parks and cultural sites as we got closer to our landing point. Regardless of differences in management philosophies for heritage between the west and the east, one of the major factors that we sometimes fail to really appreciate is the sheer scale for heritage conservation which China faces in both the rural and urban landscape.
St Margaret’s Well, in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh is a great case demonstrating the multiple lives and forms of heritage sites. Since it was first built at Restalrig in the late 15th century, it has been moved and reconstructed, and the design itself was a miniature copy of another historic site, St Triduana’s Aisle.
With apologies for the poor photo focus (taken in pouring rain), the Well has a classic Royal Label Factory design site sign, though the font is a slight variant from others. The site forms part of the larger Royal Park of Holyrood, looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.
Battle Abbey was established on the top of the hill that formed a central part of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The battlefield is now an integral part of the English Heritage site and visitors are able to walk the slopes where interpretation boards help to explain the different stages of the engagement.
Various features of the 1937 edition of the Official Guide to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Abbey & Environs have been covered already in recent posts. The guide also uses a number of pages at the back of the book to cross-sell not only other sites in the care of the Government, but also the range of guidebooks which HMSO had begun to prepare for them.
In contrast to similar lists in other site guidebooks of the period, this section provides a distinct tone of voice in the promotion of sites in state care – suggesting that, “..it is not perhaps sufficiently realised that a large number of our most precious national monuments are not in the charge of the State and are being preserved and made accessible to the public, who for a small charge (usually not more than 6d.) are able to visit them.”
The section goes on to use a somewhat convoluted system of italics and capitals to highlight guides available, those in preparation and the prices of them. The series of Regional Guides to Ancient Monuments (mentioned elsewhere) is noted as being in course of publication.
It is worth noting that the summer opening hours for sites are longer than current site opening schedules – closing at 7 or 8 p.m!
Channel 4 has been running a series of docu-shorts exploring derelict and abandoned sites using drones. Each ‘Drones in Forbidden Zones‘ film is approximately 2-3 minutes long, and comprises fly-through and fly-over of a variety of different sites in the UK, including power station cooling towers, an abandoned theme park, and Crossrail. The atmospheric films have included commentary from people involved with the site as former workers, residents and explorers. At the intersection of heritage, urbex and what has been labelled in some instances ‘ruin porn‘ or ‘rustalgia‘, the films are nonetheless instructive in presenting depictions of sites and buildings in the process of ‘becoming’ – becoming derelict; becoming ruins; becoming heritage sites; becoming complete; or becoming something else.
Ruins and derelict sites have become a distinct subject of exhibition and study of late. Ruin Lust (held at the Tate Gallery) is notable for providing a wide art history context, whilst Bradley Garrett’s ‘Explore Everything: Place-hacking the City‘ considers the behavioural aspects of adventure and opportunity in trying to experience cities via off-limits or forgotten spaces.