Carisbrooke Castle Guidebooks © David Gill
I was delighted to see that a range of guidebooks for Carsibrooke were displayed in an exhibition relating to the castle. They are an important record of how the castle was interpreted and presented to the visiting public.
The cap worn by the castle’s custodian is also included as part of the castle’s heritage.
Custodian’s Hat, DOE © David Gill
Osborne House was opened to the public in 1954 and John Charlton, Inspector of Ancient Monuments, prepared the Ministry of Works ‘Official Guide’. There is a single narrative that effectively provides a tour of the house and grounds. There are numerous black and white illustrations.
1960 (rev. 1968)
1960 (rev. 1974)
Charlton’s Guide was revised and the text continued to be used by both the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works and the Department of the Environment. While the text remained largely the same, the new souvenir guide format include colour images. These are in the format of souvenir guides written for other sites in State Guardianship.
1989 (9th ed. 2004)
The 1989 guidebook was by Michael Turner and was published in nine editions (to 2014) and has been replaced by the English Heritage ‘red’ guide. Essentially this was divided into two main sections: the tour (including the exterior) and the history.
The present English Heritage guidebook is written by Turner. It contains a tour of the house, tour of the gardens, followed by a history . There are seven special features explaining aspects life at Osborne.
2007 (2nd ed. 2014, rev. 2016)
Reculver © David Gill
The Saxon Shore fort of Reculver in Kent is in the care of English Heritage. Parts of the Roman fort has been eroded into the sea. In the 7th century the fort became the site for the foundation of an Anglo-Saxon minster. The site was placed in Site Guardianship in 1950.
Stuart E. Rigold wrote a short guide to the site in 1971. This followed the format of the DOE concertina card guides (see also Hardknott Roman fort; Hetty Pegler’s Tump). There are 6 columns of text (the fort, the minster) on one side (with a small plan of the fort and church), a series of images including a plan of the 7th-15th century ecclesiastical structures.
The present English Heritage guide by Tony Wilmott covers the two Saxon Shore forts in Kent, Reculver and Richborough.
1986 (2nd ed.; repr. 2001)
Appuldurcombe is a major house on the Isle of Wight. The fragile structure was placed in State Guardianship in 1952. It had last been occupied in 1909.
The Ministry guidebook was prepared by L.O.J. Boynton (1967). This takes a different format to other ‘blue’ guides. It starts with an introduction, and then presents a short essay on the Worsleys of Appuldurcombe. This is followed by a long section on the building of Appuldurcombe, with sections on Sir Robert Worsley (1701–13), Sir Richard Worsley (1773–82) and the Yarborough period (1805–55) and after. Finally there is a description of the house and grounds. The text is supported iwth a block of 32 endnotes. There are 9 black and white plates, and a table showing the 18th century cost of the house. Inside the back cover are plans of the park and of the house itself.
1967 (3rd impress. 1971)
The DOE guide (1971) is essentially the same as the earlier MPBW one except that it had integrated images. The English Heritage Guide (1986), that continues in print (most recently in 2009), is a revised and expanded version of Boynton’s 1967 text. It now starts with a tour and description, broken down into elements of the structure. This is followed by a history of Appuldurcombe starting in the Anglo-Saxon period. The final section is the building history. There are now 37 supporting endnotes.
This is one of several Ministry guides that continue to have a life under English Heritage.
1956 (repr. 1970)
The Cluniac priory at Thetford was placed in State Guardianship in 1932. F.J.E. Raby prepared the first official guide in 1935. This was expanded by P.K. Baillie Reynolds (1956). The pair also prepared the guidebooks for Castle Acre Priory and Framlingham Castle.
The Thetford guide consists of three pages of History, followed by six pages of description. A plan of the priory was placed in the middle pages.
1984 (repr. 1989; orig. 1979)
In 1979 the DOE guidebook was expanded to include a section on the Warren Lodge outside Thetford. S.E. Rigold prepared the new section on the lodge. In 1984 this booklet evolved into the English Heritage guide with black and white photographs and plans. David Sherlock had a section on the Church of the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre (with plan), and Rigold on the lodge.
Thetford Warren Lodge © David Gill
Totnes Castle in Devon forms one of the Shell Keeps in Devon and Cornwall. The castle was placed in State Guardianship in 1947, and S.E. Rigold wrote the first MPBW pamphlet guide in 1952. This continued as the DOE pamphlet guide (1979) [8 pp.; price 5p] with the blue header making a reference to the fuller ‘blue guides’ available at other sites.
1987 (2nd ed. 1990)
This was expanded, with very slightly adapted text as an English Heritage guide (1983; 2nd ed. 1990 [30p]). It doubled in length and included black and white photographs, a single page plan, and a reconstruction by Alan Sorrell. The description now preceded the history.
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.