Heritage, levelling-up and the Thames Estuary

Hadleigh Castle, Essex © Caroline Gill

Four key reports are encouraging us to rethink heritage on both sides of the Thames Estuary. The RSA Heritage Index (2020) provides the data arranged by local authority to explore the contribution heritage makes in a locality. In particular, the accompanying report, Pride in Place by Hannah Webster, identifies the authorities along the Thames Estuary as having ‘heritage potential’. In other words, these areas rank highly in terms of heritage assets, but not so well in terms of heritage activities.

The RSA data for heritage in the two counties of Essex and Kent (and with sections on the Thames Estuary) are further explored in two reports by David Gill and Peter Matthews that have been issued by the Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent (2021). These three heritage reports can now be read against the Thames Heritage Levelling-up Data Atlas (2021) that was commissioned by the Thames Estuary Growth Board. This Atlas explores ten indicators in order ‘to help understand social outcomes and inequalities in a consistent way across the Estuary’.

Can the data from these reports form the starting point for interventions that would help to ‘level up’ local populations especially around the theme of health and well-being? This is particularly important as there is a strong correlation between higher levels of neighbourhood deprivation and lower arts, cultural and heritage engagement (Mak, Coulter and Fancourt 2021), and a significant body of research has demonstrated that the arts and culture can potentially impact both mental and physical health (Fancourt and Finn 2019).

In the Atlas section on ‘Health and Wellbeing’, Canterbury and Brentwood have the most active populations: only 17 and 20 per cent of the population take exercise for less than 30 minutes each week. (The average for England is 25 per cent.) Both these authorities perform well in the Heritage Index for England, ranking at 67 and 123. Specifically, Brentwood is ranked at 25 in the theme of Parks and Open Spaces, and at 95 for Landscape and Natural Heritage, while Canterbury is ranked at 223 and 35. While this could suggest that certain types of heritage asset promote good health through the provision of space for exercise, Castle Point is ranked at 52 in the Heritage Index, but 30 per cent of the population take exercise for less than 30 minutes each week.

The Atlas suggests that Canterbury, Dartford, Castle Point, Brentwood and Rochford, have better mental health than the average for England (17%); Canterbury, Rochford and Castle Point are in the top 100 in the Heritage Index for England. In addition, authorities in the Thames Estuary have a good level of Life Satisfaction with several authorities above the average for England (7.66 ex 10), notably Swale (7.78), Rochford (7.91), and Castle Point (7.99). This may reflect access to heritage assets. Rochford was ranked at 4 in the Heritage Index for Landscape and Natural Heritage; and Castle Point and Swale performed well in the rankings for Parks and Open Spaces (16/27) as well as Landscape and Natural Heritage (20/26).

Two Tree Island, Essex © David Gill

The Levelling-up Atlas and the Heritage Index offer an invaluable starting point for understanding the link between heritage, and health and well-being. The data from the reports should be used by policy-makers to inform the levelling up agenda along the Thames Estuary, but it is clear that there needs to be further research into the way that local populations engage with heritage, and what can be done to improve the local assets for the wider benefit of the local population.

Professor David Gill (University of Kent) and Phil Ward (Eastern ARC)

This post was prepared for the Heritage Alliance debate, “Levelling Up: What does it mean for heritage?”, 30 November 2021.

Heritage and the Economy: East of England and the South East

Framlingham Castle © David Gill

The economic value of heritage is not always recognised. The report on Heritage and the Economy 2020 by Historic England makes the point that heritage in England directly generated £14.7 bn GVA in 2019 (and £36.6 bn GVA taking into account direct, indirect and induced income), and directly created 206,000 jobs. Taking direct, indirect and induced GVA, the total generated by heritage for 2019 was £36.6 bn, and created 563,509 jobs.

The dataset accompanying the report, Heritage Economic Estimate Indicators, shows that the heritage sector generated over £5 bn directly and indirectly in the East of England and the South East, and £8 bn if induced income is taken into account. This regional amount represents approximately 20 per cent of heritage GVA for England.

East of England and the South East

The sector also provided over 80,000 jobs, directly and indirectly in the two regions in 2019; taking account of the induced element, this rises to 140,000 regional jobs in 2019. This regional amount represents some 25 per cent of the heritage jobs in England.

East of England and the South East

A healthy heritage sector is one of the keys for the recovery of the national economy.

The State of the Historic Environment and Kent

Reculver © David Gill

The Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent has published a report on the State of the Historic Environment for Kent (2021). The report explores the data from the RSA Heritage Index (2020) along the themes of Historic Built Environment; Museums, Archives and Artefacts; Industrial Heritage; Parks and Open Spaces; Landscape and Natural Heritage; and Cultures and Memories. The 316 local authorities in England are then ranked on criteria such as the number of historic buildings, funding, and public participation in heritage.

Six authorities in Kent are recognised for their heritage and are placed in the top 100 for heritage in England. Tunbridge Wells at 36 and Dover at 49 are the highest ranked in Kent.

‘This fascinating report has highlighted the huge potential we have in our county. At the Institute, we are developing new interactive, creative ways of engaging our communities with their heritage, and we look forward to working with partners to bring new stories of our built and green environment to life.’

Professor Catherine Richardson, Director of Kent’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries

The report is available from the University of Kent [DOI].

2021

Press release from the University of Kent.

Old Soar Manor: guidebook

OldSoar_MPBW
1950 (repr. 1968)

Old Soar Manor in Kent was acquired by the National Trust (1947) and subsequently placed in State Guardianship (1948). Margaret Wood prepared the paper guidebook in 1950 and it continued in print until the 1970s. The guide has a short history and a longer description. A floor plan of the house in c. 1290 is included.

Note the entry: ‘A National Trust property in the guardianship of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works’.

Lympne: Praefectus of the British Fleet

Lympne_2246-Edit
Inscription from Lympne © David Gill

This altar was discovered in April 1852, subsequent to the 1850 excavations of the east gate of the Roman fort at Lympne in Kent (RIB 66). The inscription shows that it was a dedication to the god Neptune, set up by L. Aufidius Pant(h)era who was serving as the praefectus of the British fleet, clas(sis) Brit(annicae).

Pant(h)era, from Umbria, served as prefect in a cavalry unit in Upper Pannonia and is named in a diploma dated to 2 July 133. He probably moved to Britannia subsequent to this date.

It appears that the altar was reused in the later Saxon Shore fort, probably dating to the second half of the third century. The altar was purchased by the British Museum from Charles Roach Smith in 1856 (inv. 1856.07-01.5026).

Reculver: guidebooks

IMG_5811
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.

Reculver_DOE

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.

Richborough_EH
(2012)

The present English Heritage guide by Tony Wilmott covers the two Saxon Shore forts in Kent, Reculver and Richborough.

Maison Dieu: guidebook

Maison_Dieu_MPBW
1958 (3rd impress. with amendments 1967)

The hospital of Maison Dieu was built in the 13th century at Ospringe in Kent and stood on the line of the main road from Dover to London. The earliest records date back to the reign of Henry III. The building was placed in State guardianship in 1947.

S.E. Rigold wrote the official guidebook (1958) consisting of a history and a description. There are a number of black and white images. G.C. Dunning added a section on the museum; there is a plan showing the layout of the display cases. Dunning includes a review of Roman finds in the area of Ospringe. He also includes a note on the Ospringe finds now in the British Museum.

Temple Manor: guidebook

Temple_Manor_MPBW
1962 (5th impress. 1970)

Temple Manor at Strood near Rochester in Kent was founded in the 13th century by the Knights Templar (though the manor was given to them in the reign of King Henry II). It stood on the main route between Dover and London, close to the Medway crossing.

Temple Manor was placed in State Guardianship in 1950, and the guide was prepared by S.E. Rigold (1962). The guidebook consists of a history followed by a description. A foldout plan inside the back cover has plans of the ground and first floors. There are black and white photographs and a double spread of an engraving of the manor by Catherine Thorpe (1767). The cover shows a 13th seal of the Templars.

Rigold’s guidebook continues to be in print as an English Heritage guide (repr. 2010).

Eynsford Castle: Guidebook

Eynsford_MPBW
1964 (3rd impress. with amendments 1965)

Eynford Castle in Kent was placed in State Guardianship in 1948. The ruins were consolidated and Stuart Rigold prepared a guidebook (1964). This consisted of the standard format of History followed by Description. There were black and white photographs with a fold-out plan in the back.

The design is based on the seal of William de Eynsford III in Christ Church, Canterbury.

Eynsford_DOE
1964 (7th impress. 1974)

This guidebook was amended in 1974, and appeared as the English Heritage guide for the site in 1984. One of the changes made was the layout with bold sub-headings for different parts of the castle.

The Saxon Shore: Reculver

IMG_5814
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.

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