Free but not easy: raising money for the twilight portfolio of English Heritage sites in care

English Heritage has just launched The Once & Future Fund designed to build an endowment to support specifically the sites looked after by the organisation that don’t have admission charges, shops, cafes or custodians.  This group of free to access sites form the vast majority of the national portfolios of English Heritage (as well as Historic Scotland and Cadw), and therefore tend to be less in the public eye for recognition and visitation. The sites which vary in size from the very small (such as Dunster Butter Cross), through to the very large (like Maiden Castle) are theoretically no less important, though they do, unsurprisingly, fall much further down the pecking order when it comes to investment and maintenance.

The campaign by English Heritage is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, through its Heritage Endowments programme, with a HLF commitment to match fund donations up to £1 million. It will dedicate much needed funds and attention on this twilight group of sites which has never received the investment it should have, has never been made the most of within the broader national portfolio, and remains hugely under-interpreted for the visitor. Whilst the dedicated attention and matching commitment by the HLF is to be applauded, it does raise further broader questions about the original £88.5 million ‘endowment’ given to English Heritage / Historic England by Government as part of the English Heritage New Model organisational structure change, particularly around the state of play of reducing the long term conservation backlog for the unstaffed sites with complex needs, and the long-term viability of this part of the national collection which will have to increasingly rely on such fund-raising schemes.

Stonehenge, 100 years: ‘a gift to be held for the nation’

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Stonehenge © David Gill

Today is the centenary of Stonehenge being given to the nation by (Sir) Cecil and Mary Chubb (1876-1934). He had purchased the site in 1915 from the estate of Sir Edmund Antrobus for £6,600 (Knight, Frank, and Rutley, Salisbury, September 21, 1915, lot 15). The handover was made to Sir Alfred Mond on 26 October 1915.

The surrounding land was purchased in 1927.

Top 10 Heritage Sites for Suffolk

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Sutton Hoo © David Gill

I have been reviewing the summer and thinking about the key heritage sites in Suffolk. I have put the ten locations in a broadly chronological order.

Sutton Hoo. The Anglo-Saxon ship-burial site is one of the most important archaeological sites in the UK. The spectacular finds are displayed in the British Museum.

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The gatehouse to the Abbey, Bury St Edmunds © David Gill

The Abbey of St Edmund. The abbey precinct contains the ruined abbey as well as two impressive gatehouses. The present cathedral stands alongside the former abbey church.

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Blythburgh © David Gill

Blythburgh church. Suffolk has numerous medieval churches but Blythburgh is probably one of the most impressive. The setting with the marshes enhances the visit.

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Lavenham © David Gill

Lavenham, Guildhall. The Guildhall at Lavenham stood at the heart of the medieval community.

Clare Castle

Clare Castle © David Gill

Clare Castle. It is hard to beat a castle that has a (disused) railway station in its outer bailey. The castle provides good views over Clare with its splendid church.

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Orford Castle © David Gill

Orford Castle. The castle at Orford provides a wonderful platform to view part of the Suffolk coast including the twentieth century Cold War remains on Orford Ness.

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Ickworth © David Gill

Ickworth. The Rotunda at Ickworth dominates the landscape and can be viewed from the Italianate gardens.

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Museum of East Anglian Life © David Gill

Museum of East Anglian Life. This outdoor museum in Stowmarket brings together different elements of rural life in the region. The riverside walk provides a good opportunity to spot wildlife.

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East Anglia Transport Museum © David Gill

East Anglia Transport Museum. This gem of a museum provides train, tram and trolleybus rides, exhibits of signs, and displays from the now dismantled Southwold railway.

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Palace House, Newmarket © David Gill

Newmarket, Palace House. Newmarket is synonymous with horseracing and the exhibitions have everything from Greek pottery to modern art, physiological displays, and memorabilia. Visitors can even take an automated ride.

This is very much a personal list, and it reflects some of the key locations.

 

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

Guidebooks by W. Douglas Simpson

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1959 (6th impress. 1969)

W. Douglas Simpson (1896–1968) prepared a series of Ministry guidebook for sites in State Guardianship. He was lecturer in British History at the University of Aberdeen (by 1924), and then He served as Librarian and Registrar for the University of Aberdeen from 1926 through to 1966. He served as Chair of the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland. He was awarded OBE (1954) and CBE (1962).

In 1959 Simpson prepared Scottish Castles: An Introduction to the Castles of Scotland (HMSO, 1959). In the Foreword he wrote: ‘Those who read this little book will come to realise that, small and poor as it has always been, Scotland yet possesses a distinctive castellated architecture, and one of which any nation might be proud’. There are eight sections:

  • The earliest castles
  • Castles of enceinte
  • The early tower houses
  • Bastard feudalism and the later castles
  • The later tower houses
  • The royal palaces
  • Firearms and the later “House of Fence”
  • The Scottish baronial style

Portrait here.

Several of the castles and abbeys he studied were located around Aberdeen: Tolquhon Castle (1948), Huntly Castle (1954), Kildrummy and Glenbuchat (1957); the Abbey of Deer (1952).

Kirkcudbrightshire: Threave Castle (1948)

Angus: Edzell Castle (1952); Restenneth Priory (1952)

Isle of Bute: Rothesay Castle (1952)

Midlothian: Craigmillar (1954), Crichton (1957)

East Lothian: Hailes Castle

Inverness-shire: Urquhart (1964); Beauly Priory (1954)

Roxburghshire: Hermitage (1957)

Lanarkshire: Bothwell Castle (1958)

Orkney: Kirkwall (1965)

The guidebook for Dunstaffnage (1981) contains his draft.

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(1954)

He also prepared (with V. Gordon Childe) the Illustrated Guide to Ancient Monuments … vol 6: Scotland (1954).

He prepared one guidebook for the National Trust for Scotland: Craigievar Castle, the rock of Mar (1966) (NTS). This castle is located to the west of Aberdeen.

Simpson also prepared two guidebooks for castles in England: Brough Castle, Cumbria (1949; repr. 1969) (now English Heritage); Bodiam Castle (1965) for the National Trust.

 

Hall, A. (2004, September 23). Simpson, William Douglas (1896–1968), archaeologist and historian. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. Retrieved 5 Aug. 2018, from http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-49530.

 

Warkworth Hermitage: chapel

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Warkworth Hermitage, ‘east’ end © David Gill

The chapel lies at a raised level within the cliff face alongside the river. The ‘east’ end in effect points south-east. It is c. 6.2 m long, and 2.3 m wide.

At the east end is a rock-cut altar.

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Warkworth Hermitage, ‘west’ end © David Gill

At the west end there is an entrance from the exterior, and opposite it, the doorway into the sacristry.

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Warkworth Hermitage, chapel vaulting © David Gill

The ceiling consists of three sections with mock vaulting. In the central section is a rock-cut basin.

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Warkworth Hermitage, basin © David Gill