Properties in the care of Cadw will be re-opening from August following the COVID-19 lockdown (“Wales’ ancient monuments set to reopen in August“, BBC News 18 July 2020). The first to re-open will be the castle at Laugharne on 4 August 2020.
The top seven paid heritage visitor attractions in East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) account for 1.1 million visitors a year (2018). Four are properties managed by the National Trust: Ickworth, Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall, and Oxburgh Hall. Framlingham Castle is managed by English Heritage.
There is a single museum, the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.
The Poppy Line (North Norfolk Railway) is also in the top seven.
I have been thinking about my Top 10 heritage sites in Norfolk. This is very much a personal choice, and the locations are placed in (rough) chronological order. I have tried to include a variety of types of heritage site. How can you decide between Norwich Cathedral and Norwich Castle? Or between Felbrigg and Blickling? Castle Rising and Castle Acre?
Grime’s Graves. You can descend into the Neolithic flint mines.
Burgh Castle. One of the best preserved Roman forts of the Saxon Shore.
Norwich Cathedral. The cathedral is an architectural gem and dominates the city.
Binham Priory. Part of the Benedictine priory is still in use as the parish church.
Castle Rising. This well-preserved keep is dominated by a series of earthworks.
Oxburgh Hall. The moated hall at Oxburgh contains fabulous tapestries.
Felbrigg Hall. The 17th century front to the house is a gem.
Holkham Hall. One of the most magnificent houses and Grand Tour collections in Norfolk.
The North Norfolk Railway (The Poppy Line). The journey between Sheringham and Holt provides views of the coast as well as the Norfolk countryside.
Sandringham. The Royal residence sits in the middle of extensive landscaped grounds.
The Outlander series of books and TV series is having an impact on visitor numbers at heritage sites in Scotland (“Outlander tourism effect a ‘double edged sword’“, BBC News 15 February 2020). Doune Castle is reported to have a 200 per cent increase, rising from 38,000 in 2013 to 142,000 in 2008. It is now the fifth most popular Historic Environment Scotland site.
Culloden, managed by the National Trust for Scotland, has also seen a large increase in visitor numbers to over 213,000 in 2018.
The collection within Colchester Castle contains one of the best presented collections of objects from Roman Britain. It is displayed in an imaginative and engaging way from the mosaics and (funerary) sculptures to the inscriptions and pottery.
In spite of this Colchester has, surprisingly, not featured as high in the list of museums for the RSA Heritage Index.
These covers show the development from the first official guidebook (St Botolph’s) issued by the Office of Works through to English Heritage. These guides range from small booklets to concertina card guides.
For the development of guides in Scotland see here.
The Cistercian abbey at Furness was established at the present site in 1127. It was placed in State Guardianship in 1923. The official guidebook was prepared by J.C. Dickinson in 1965. This contains a history, followed by an itinerary and description. A fold-out plan is placed inside the back cover.
The ‘blue guide’ continued into the 1980s as an English Heritage guide. It was replaced in 1998 by a new illustrated guide, combined with Piel Castle, by Stuart Harrison and Jason Wood; the section on Piel Castle was prepared by Rachel Newman. A fold-out plan of the abbey as well as its surrounding area is printed on the fold-out back cover.
Brougham Castle in Cumbria was placed in State Guardianship in 1928. The first paper guidebook was written by John Charlton in 1950. It has a section on the history of the site, including the adjacent Roman fort. There is a separate section on the ‘periods of building’, followed by a description. A plan of the castle is provided on the centre pages.
The Ministry guide evolved into an English Heritage guide (1985) and a second edition was prepared in 1988. This contains a Tour of the Castle followed by a History. The text is considerably expanded. There is a short separate section on the Roman fort with an illustration of an altar to Mars.
This English Heritage guide is one of the ‘Gateway‘ sponsored guides.
The Charlton guide was replaced in 1999 by a joint guide with Brough Castle prepared by Henry Summerson. The histroy of each castle is presented followed by a tour. One of the sections is on ‘Wordsworth and Brougham’. Plans of both castles are placed inside the back cover.
The main stables are located on the east side of the outer ward of the castle.
Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight retains some of its original Ministry signs including this information board close to the entrance. The blank section at the bottom would have indicated (using similar signs), ‘This monument is in the care of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works [or Ministry of Works] / It is an offence to injure or deface it’.