The Saxon Shore: Reculver


Reculver, Late Roman walls © David Gill

One of the Late Roman Saxon Shore forts in Kent was located at Reculver. Although the northern parts of the fort have eroded into the sea, the line of the walls can be traced on the landward side, especially to the east.

Leading Visitor Attractions 2016: English Heritage


Pendennis Castle © David Gill

The 2016 list of Leaving Visitor Attractions in the UK has been published. The top English Heritage site continues to be Stonehenge (at no. 23) with 1,381,855 visitors, with a modest 1.1 % increase on 2015 figures.

The remaining English Heritage properties are (with overall ranking):

  • Dover Castle (no. 98): 333,289
  • Osborne House (no. 116): 265,011
  • Tintagel Castle (no. 125): 229,809
  • Audley End House and Gardens (no. 149): 165,799
  • Whitby Abbey (no. 151): 151,810
  • Clifford’s Tower (no. 154): 146,703
  • Battle Abbey (no. 160): 137,771
  • Kenwood (no. 161): 134,416
  • Carisbrooke Castle (no. 164): 127,012
  • Wrest Park (no. 166): 124,305
  • Kenilworth Castle (no. 169): 107,993
  • Housesteads Roman Fort (no. 172): 102,004
  • Eltham Palace and Gardens (no. 176): 94,635
  • Bolsover Castle (no. 179): 91,880
  • Walmer Castle and Gardens (no. 180): 91,752
  • Pendennis Castle (no. 191): 73,907

The major increase in visitors were seen at Osborne House, Tintagel Castle, Audley End House and Gardens, Battle Abbey, Carisbrooke Castle, Wrest Park, Walmer Castle and Gardens. There was a significant downturn in visitors for Kenwood.


Walmer Castle and Gardens © David Gill

Stuart E. Rigold and official guidebooks


1974 (1985)

Stuart Eborall Rigold (1919-1980) studied geology at St Andrews, and during WW2 worked at Bletchley Park. He continued his studies at St Peter’s Hall, Oxford, where he was recruited for the Ministry of Works (1948) working under Bryan O’Neil. He was Principal Inspector (1976-79).

Rigold wrote the following guidebooks:

  • The Pyx Chamber, Westminster Abbey (1949)
  • The Chapter House, Westminster Abbey (1952) (with John G. Noppen)
  • Totnes Castle (1952)
  • Titchfield Abbey (1954) (with Rose Graham)
  • Nunney Castle (1956)
  • Maison Dieu, Ospringe (1958)
  • North Elmham Saxon Cathedral (1960)
  • Temple Manor, Strood (1962)
  • Eynsford Castle (1963)
  • Portchester Castle (1965)
  • Baconsthorpe Castle (1966)
  • Lilleshall Abbey (1969)
  • Yarmouth Castle (1969)
  • Reculver (1971)
  • Bayham Abbey (1974)
  • Thetford Priory (1979) (with F.J.E. Raby and P.K. Baillie Reynolds)

It should be noted that several of these are sites in Kent: Maison Dieu; Temple Manor; Eynsford Castle; Reculver.

Walmer Castle: Building Inscription


Walmer Castle © David Gill

An inscription marking the completion of Walmer Castle in 1540 can be found at the outer edge of the west entrance to the castle. This was in response to the threat of  invasion that had been expected in 1539. Note that this part of the fortifications were rebuilt in 1661.

St Augustine’s Cross


St Augustine’s Cross © David Gill

St Augustine traditionally landed in Kent in 597. In 1884 the Second Earl of Granville, George Granville Leveson-Gower (1815-91) [ODNB], the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports (1865-91), erected a Saxon style cross near the supposed spot where Augustine landed. Granville’s official residence was at Walmer Castle.

Granville’s wife was a Roman Catholic, and his sister, Lady Georgiana Charlotte Fullerton (1812-85) , had converted in 1846. The Times (13 October 1884) had reported Lady Georgiana’s letter announcing the creation of the cross at Granville’s “own expense, on his own land”, and that it was “an act of homage to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Apostolate of St Augustine, rendered by one of their Protestant fellow-countrymen, which is doubtless a cause of rejoicing to all English Catholics”.

The cross was carved by J. Roddis of Birmingham and was based on the Sandbach Crosses in Cheshire.


St Augustine’s Cross, Latin text on the base of the cross © David Gill


St Augustine’s Cross, Latin Text © David Gill

The accompanying Latin text, cut on the base of the cross (and with a plaque), was composed by Dr Henry George Liddell (1811-98), Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and compiler of the Greek Lexicon (Liddell-Scott). One of Liddell’s daughters, Alice, was celebrated by Lewis Carroll. Liddell had been Granville’s tutor at Christ Church in 1836 (see The Graphic 15 November 1884).


Guidebooks and Sir Alfred Clapham

Whitby Abbey © David Gill

Whitby Abbey © David Gill

Sir Alfred (William) Clapham (1883-1950) was responsible for at least three guidebooks produced by the Ministry of Works. He was educated at Dulwich College and then worked on the Victoria History of the Counties of England (where (Sir) Charles Peers was architectural editor). In 1912 he joined the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England). (For his life: ODNB.)

He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiqauries in 1913, and served as its President from 1939 to 1944. He was knighted in 1944.

Clapham worked on at least three guides for the Ministry of Works, and all appeared posthumously.

1951 (2012 reprint)

1951 (2012 reprint)

They included the Augustinian Abbey at Thornton in Humberside (and originally Lincolnshire). This appeared in 1951, and from 1954 included a supplement on the monastic buildings by P.K. Baillie Reynolds. Clapham’s guide was published by English Heritage (1989), revised in 2010, and last reprinted in 2012.

1952 (16th impression 1979)

1952 (16th impression 1979)

Clapham published the 1952 guide to the Benedictine Abbey at Whitby. The abbey had been the subject of clearance and excavation by Peers during the 1920s after it came into State Guardianship. Peers and C.A. Ralegh Radford had published on the Anglo-Saxon origins of the abbey.

1955 (12th impression 1977)

1955 (12th impression 1977)

Clapham’s third guidebook was on St Augustine’s Abbey at Canterbury (1955). Like Whitby the abbey has Anglo-Saxon origins.

Excavating Lullingstone Roman Villa

Lullingstone Roman Villa © David Gill

Lullingstone Roman Villa © David Gill

Lullingstone Roman villa was excavated by Lt.-Col. G.W. Meates from 1949 to 1961. A short film of the excavations was made in 1958 and is now available via the East Anglia Film Archive (EAFA) at UEA.

A post on the guidebooks from the site can be found here.