Leading Visitor Attractions 2018: National Trust

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Waddesdon Manor © David Gill

The figures for Leading Visitor Attractions in 2018 have been published. The top National Trust sites are:

  • Giants Causeway [35]: 1,011,473 [+2.7%]
  • Clumber Park [59]: 657,443 [+4%]
  • Carrick-a-Rede [72]: 491,947 [+13%]
  • Attingham Park [73]: 484,581 [+4%]
  • Cliveden [74]: 483,754 [-1%]
  • Waddesdon Manor [77]: 466,158 [-0.86%]
  • Belton House [83]: 422,682 [-5%]
  • Stourhead [86]: 393,779 [+3%]
  • Fountains Abbey Estate [88]: 388,500 [-8%]
  • Calke Abbey [90]: 384,561 [-1%]
  • Mottisfont [92]: 376,043 [+3%]
  • Anglesey Abbey [93]: 370,506 [-5%]
  • Nymans Garden [99]: 354,502 [+4%]
  • Kingston Lacy [101]: 353,653 [+9%]
  • St Michael’s Mount [103]: 347,773 [-1%]
  • Polesden Lacey [104]: 347,149 [-2%]
  • Dunham Massey [110]: 310,093 [+7%]
  • Sheffield Park [111]: 306,692 [+8%]
  • Wimpole Estate [113]: 304,191 [-12%]
  • Tyntesfield [116]: 301,765 [-3%]
  • Hardwick Hall [119]: 285,379 [+2%]
  • Lanhydrock [120]: 273,149 [+4%]
  • Killerton [121]: 267,383 [+7%]
  • Bodnant Garden [125]: 254,227 [+1%]
  • Ickworth [126]: 254,073 [-7%]
  • Dyrham Park [127]: 251,631 [0%]
  • Chartwell [128]: 246,336 [+3%]
  • Quarry Bank [130]: 240,277 [-5%]
  • Corfe Castle [131]: 237,992 [-4%]
  • Wallington [132]: 236,825 [+1%]
  • Cragside Estate [133]: 236,672 [+3%]
  • Mount Stewart [137]: 226,577 [+4%]
  • Baddesley Clinton [140]: 221,703 [+1%]
  • Trelissick [141]: 214,034 [+7%]
  • Saltram [146]: 209,755 [+7%]
  • Stowe [147]: 208,644 [-1%]
  • Charlecote Park [148]: 208,289 [-5%]
  • Dunster Castle [150]: 204,625 [-2%]
  • Speke Hall [151]: 204,134 [+6%]
  • Shugborough Estate [152]: 203,652 [+27%]
  • Packwood House [153]: 202,114 [-8%]
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Stowe © David Gill

Leading Visitor Attractions 2018: English Heritage

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The figures for Leading Visitor Attractions in 2018 have been published. The top English Heritage sites are:

  • Stonehenge [20]: 1,555,868 [-1.7%]. 2017: 1,582,532 [+14.5%]
  • Dover Castle [95]: 365,462 [-3.8%]. 2017: 379,740 [+13.9%]
  • Osborne [112]: 304,927 [-1.3%]. 2017: 308,861 [+16.1%]
  • Tintagel Castle [135]: 230,584 [-6.3%]. 2017: 246,039 [+7.1%]
  • Carlisle Castle [158]: 177,247 [+285.4%]
  • Audley End House and Gardens [160]: 170,042 [-5.1%]. 2017: 179,167 [+8.1%]
  • Clifford’s Tower, York [163]: 154,701 [+0.4%]. 2017: 154,135 [+5.1%]
  • Whitby Abbey [165]: 147,566 [-11.3%]. 2017: 166,362 [+9.6%]
  • Kenwood [171]: 131,126 [-8.6%]. 2017: 143,490 [+6.8%]
  • Wrest Park [172]: 128,980 [-5.9%]. 2017: 137,131 [+10.3%]
  • Carisbrooke Castle [174]: 125,664 [-0.7%]. 2017: 126,584 [-0.3%]
  • 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield [176]: 123,870 [+0.5%]. 2017: 123,220 [-10.6%]
  • Eltham Palace and Gardens [180]: 110,034 [+0.5%]. 2017: 109,501 [+12.5%]
  • Kenilworth Castle [181]: 110,012 [-6.8%]. 2017: 118,090 [+9.3%]
  • Housesteads Roman Fort [182]: 109,675 [+0.9%]. 2017: 108,660 [+6.5%]
  • Walmer Castle and Gardens [184]: 103,905 [-4.7%]. 2017: 109,005 [+18.8%]

Overall English Heritage seems to have been attracting fewer visitors during 2018.

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Eltham Palace © David Gill

Ministry Guidebooks from 1955

Caernarvon Castle
(1961)

My study of Ministry Souvenir Guidebooks has appeared in the latest number of the Journal of Public Archaeology (2018).

Abstract
The first formal guidebooks for historic sites placed in state guardianship in the United Kingdom appeared in 1917. There was an expansion of the series in the 1930s and 1950s. However from the late 1950s the Ministry of Works, and later the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, started to produce an additional series of illustrated souvenir guides. One distinct group covered Royal Palaces: The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Queen Victoria’s residence of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, and Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. This was followed by guides for the archaeological sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury, the Neolithic flint mines at Grime’s Graves, the Roman villa at Lullingstone, and Hadrian’s Wall. In 1961 a series of guides, with covers designed by Kyffin Williams, was produced for the English castles constructed in North Wales and that now form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of ‘Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd’. These illustrated guides, some with colour, prepared the way for the fully designed guides now produced by English Heritage, Cadw, and History Scotland.

‘The Ministry of Works and the Development of Souvenir Guides from 1955’, Public Archaeology (2018). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14655187.2017.1484584

Leading Visitor Attractions 2017: English Heritage

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Framlingham Castle, September 2017 © David Gill

The figures for Leading Visitor Attractions in 2017 have been published. The top English Heritage sites are:

  • Stonehenge [17]: 1,582,532 [+14.5%]
  • Dover Castle [88]: 379,740 [+13.9%]
  • Osborne [105]: 308,861 [+16.1%]
  • Tintagel Castle [121]: 246,039 [+7.1%]
  • Audley End House and Gardens [147]: 179,167 [+8.1%]
  • Whitby Abbey [153]: 166,362 [+9.6%]
  • Clifford’s Tower, York [158]: 154,135 [+5.1%]
  • Kenwood [162]: 143,490 [+6.8%]
  • Wrest Park [165]: 137,131 [+10.3%]
  • Carisbrooke Castle [168]: 126,584 [-0.3%]
  • 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield [170]: 123,220 [-10.6%]
  • Kenilworth Castle [172]: 118,090 [+9.3%]
  • Eltham Palace and Gardens [174]: 109,501 [+12.5%]
  • Walmer Castle and Gardens [176]: 109,005 [+18.8%]
  • Housesteads Roman Fort [177]: 108,660 [+6.5%]
  • Framlingham Castle [178]: 106,149 [+35.9%]
  • Bolsover Castle [179]: 104,383 [+13.2%]

Note that Framlingham Castle in Suffolk had the largest percentage increase, while only two sites saw a fall in visitor numbers.

See figures for 2016.

Fixed Frontiers

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Walltown Crags, Hadrian’s Wall © David Gill

As you stand on the northern edge of the Roman Empire it is hard not to speculate on why Hadrian decided to replace the string of forts along the military road (the Stanegate) to a fixed military frontier. Equally important is the economic cost: of the construction, but then of the garrison and upkeep of the defences. And was it effective? Within a generation the line was abandoned and the frontier moved north to the Antonine Wall.

South Shields (Arbeia) Roman Fort

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South Shields Roman Fort © David Gill

The Roman fort at South Shields guards the mouth of the Tyne. The fort probably dates to the 160s, and major reconstruction took place in the early 3rd century. The site was first identified in 1875, and further excavations took place after the Second World War. The west gate was reconstructed in 1988.

 

Bryan H. St.J. O’Neil and his contribution to guidebooks

Caerlaverock Castle © David Gill
Caerlaverock Castle © David Gill

Bryan H. St. John O’Neil (1905-54) held the position of Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Wales and then Chief Inspector. He steered the Ministry through the difficult post-war years. He prepared a number of key guidebooks for sites in Wales, England and Scotland.

1951 (repr. 1954)
1951 (repr. 1954)
1943 (repr. 1963)
1943 (repr. 1963)

His early guidebooks cover Peveril Castle (1934) in Derbyshire, a site that came into state guardianship in 1932. In the same year he published a guide to Dartmouth Castle (1934) in Devon [e-copy], though this was followed by a shorter paper guide in 1951. A more detailed study of the defences of the Dart was published in the Society of Antiquaries in 1936 (Dartmouth Castle and Other Defences of Dartmouth Haven). The third in his guides of English castles was on Clifford’s Tower (1936) in York.

In 1936 O’Neil succeeded C.A. Ralegh Radford as Inspector in Wales. However his first guidebook for a site in Wales was Criccieth Castle (1934). The monument had been placed in state guardianship in 1933. In the same year Talley Abbey was placed in the care of the Office of Works, and O’Neil, now Inspector for Wales, wrote the guidebook (1938). A further Welsh castle studied by O’Neil was at Newcastle, Bridgend (1949). This had passed into state guardianship in 1932.

1949 (repr. 1952)
1949 (repr. 1952)

In 1945 O’Neil had become Chief Inspector. After the Second World War he excavated on the Isles of Scilly and published a collective guidebook on Ancient Monuments of the Isles of Scilly (1949). This included three prehistoric sites and three Civil War defensive structures.

(repr. 1975)
(repr. 1975)

He then prepared guides to two of the castles of the Cinque Ports, Deal (1953) and Walmer (1949).

Audley End
Audley End (1955)

The house at Audley End (1950) in Essex was purchased for the nation in 1948 and O’Neil prepared the guide. (There had been a possibility that Audley End would be placed with the National Trust.)

1975 (8th impression)
1975 (8th impression)

O’Neil’s responsibilities also include Ancient Monuments in Scotland. He prepared the guide for Scalloway Castle (1950) in Shetland, and Caerlaverock Castle (1952).

1954 (5th impr. 1960)
1954 (5th impr. 1960)

O’Neil’s main interest was in castles. He prepared An Introduction to the Castles of England and Wales (1954) that formed a companion to the six Regional Guides to Ancient Monuments (I: Northern England; II: Southern England; III: East Anglia and Midlands; IV: South Wales; V: North Wales; VI: Scotland). This guide to castles continued as the revised Department of the Environment Guide.

Castles (1973)
Castles (1973)

I have not included a discussion of the other guidebooks O’Neil prepared for the Channel Islands (Castle Cornet, Guernsey [1952]), the Isle of Man (Castle Rushen [1951]) and Ghana (Report on Forts and Castles of Ghana [1951].