Top 10 Heritage Sites in England: a personal view

IMG_9310

Castle Howard © David Gill

Historic England has published a list of its Top 10 Heritage Sites in England. But what would be on my personal list? The oldest site on their list was the Anglo-Saxon ship-burial site at Sutton Hoo, but I would like to push the list back a little further. I would place two key sites:

  • the first, the prehistoric mound of Silbury Hill near Avebury in Wiltshire.
  • the second, the monumental Roman frontier of Hadrian’s Wall that cuts across Northumberland and Cumbria.

Cathedrals are equally hard to list. I think top of my list would be Durham. What can beat the view of the cathedral from the train? I would also place the magnificent Norwich Cathedral in the rankings.

IMG_0164-Edit

Norwich Cathedral © David Gill

I would like them to be joined by one of the Yorkshire abbeys, and Fountains is probably the  one that heads the list. But should there be a castle on the list? Pevensey Castle brings together the Roman fort with the later medieval castle, and with hints of the Second World War inserted into the masonry.

IMG_2361.JPG

Fountains Abbey © David Gill

Country houses are difficult. Chatsworth is an outstanding residence, but I think that I would place Castle Howard, Yorkshire above it. Queen Victoria’s residence, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, has spectacular views over the Solent and should be on the list.

On a more modest scale, Cherryburn in Northumberland linked to Thomas Bewick, is an intimate location.

I feel that there should be some industrial heritage in the list. Stott Park Bobbin Mill, tucked away on the edge of Windermere in the Lake District, is one of those captivating sites. Local resources and energy supplies provided a key component of Britain’s trade.

IMG_0210

Stott Park Bobbin Mill © David Gill

Glenluce Abbey: welcome signs

IMG_0782

Glenluce Abbey © David Gill

The Cistcercian abbey at Glenluce was founded around 1192. Other abbeys were located at Melrose (1136), Dundrennan (1142) and Sweetheart (1273). Glenluce was placed in State Guardianship in 1933.

IMG_0783

Glenluce Abbey © David Gill

 

Developments at the Abbey of St Edmund

IMG_1257

Bury St Edmunds Abbey © David Gill

Historic England has indicated that the tennis courts located immediately to the east of the crypt of the abbey of St Edmund can be moved and relocated on the other side of the river (“Historic England approves relocation of Abbey’s tennis courts“, BBC News 8 March 2018). The abbey and its precinct is subject to two consultancy studies (see here).

Bayham Abbey: Guidebook

Bayham_blue

1974 (1985)

Bayham Abbey in Sussex was placed in State Guardianship in 1961 and excavated through the 1970s. S.E. Rigold prepared the first official guidebook for the DOE in 1974; it was republished as a English Heritage Handbook (note, not ‘guidebook’), and still in the familiar blue cover, by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England. The format follows the familiar pattern of History followed by description. There is a site plan in text (p. 12). Black and white photographs appear through the text. A glossary is printed inside the back cover.

The abbey was of the Premonstratensian order and had been founded by 1211.

The guidebook was reprinted (with a colour cover) in 2004 as an English Heritage guide.

Westminster Abbey: Guidebooks

Pyx_Office_of_Works

1949

Stuart Rigold (1919–80) joined the Ministry of Works as an Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments in 1948 under Bryan O’Neil. One of his first tasks was to write a short (paper) guidebook of the Pyx Chamber at Westminster Abbey and issued by the Ministry of Works (1949; 2 d.). It consists of four pages starting with the history, showing that this part of the abbey could be placed during the reign of King Edward the Confessor, followed by a description. Page 3 consists of a plan of the Pyx Chamber.

Westminster_chapter_blue

1953 (4th impress. with amendments 1965; 1st ed. 1935)

In 1953 Rigold revised John George Noppen’s guidebook (1935) to the Chapter House and Pyx Chamber at Westminster Abbey. Noppen (1887-1951) had earlier published Westminster Abbey and its Ancient Art (London, 1926) and A Guide to the Medieval Art of Westminster (London, 1927).

The Ministry guidebook consisted of a history, followed by an architectural description, then sections on the sculpture, the paintings, the tiled pavement, the windows, and the exhibits (including the Roman coffin of Valerius Amandinus, RIB 16). Rigold notes the recent damage to the windows during the air-raids of the Second World War.  There is a fold-out plan at the back (showing the relationship between the chapter house and the Pyx Chamber).

Titchfield Abbey: guidebook

Titchfield_MPBW

1954 (repr. 1962)

The Premonstratensian abbey at Titchfield was founded from the foundation at Halesowen in Worcestershire after 1214. It was dissolved in 1537 and Thomas Wriothesley had the buildings adapted into a residence.

The ruins were acquired by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries c. 1914–18, and their responsibility fell to the H.M. Office of Works in 1923. The site is now in the care of English Heritage.

The guidebook was written by Rose Graham (History) and S.E. Rigold (description). It consists of 12 pages, and the centre pages include a plan of the abbey.  The original price was 4 d. (1962).

Heritage Futures Seminar: The Abbey of St Edmund

Gill_seminar_HF_2018_02

The Abbey of St Edmund Heritage Partnership is seeking to record and interpret the remains of the Benedictine abbey in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Richard Summers will be talking about the work of the partnership on Wednesday 21 February 2018 at 4.30 pm in the Waterfront Building of the University of Suffolk. The event forms part of the Heritage Futures research seminar series.

Places can be reserved via Eventbrite. All are welcome and there is no charge.

Further details about the project can be found here.

For the abbey: