One of the last heritage sites I visited in London prior to lockdown was the Tower of London (for the Heritage Alliance conference). ALVA has now released the visitor numbers for three of their properties in London: the Tower, Hampton Court Palace, and Kensington Palace. The combined number of visitors in 2019 was 4.5 million; in 2019 it fell to 730,816.
The Tower of London is one of the Top Visitor Attractions in the UK with 2.9 million visitors in 2019. With Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace these three properties attracted 4.5 million visitors in 2019. However, due to the pandemic closure, there is a major impact on income for the properties (“Coronavirus: Tower of London Beefeaters face job cuts due to pandemic“, BBC News 20 July 2020).
The Globe theatre on the south bank of the Thames is the latest organisation to admit that it is “critically vulnerable and at risk of closure in the wake of Covid-19” (“Shakespeare’s Globe theatre calls for urgent funds to avoid insolvency“, BBC News 18 May 2020). The theatre is not apparently eligible for funding from Arts Council England. Yet organisations like this will be well-placed to attract tourists to London in the post-CV19 world.
Today is the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth.
His ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802‘ seems an appropriate poem to recall.
St Mark’s, Kennington was one of four churches built in London in thanksgiving for the victory at the Battle of Waterloo, opening in June 1824. The architectural style is neo-classical. The front entrance is in effect a Doric portico, but above it is an Ionic cupola. This evokes the 4th century BC choregic monument of Lysikrates in Athens (though constructed in a Corinthian architectural style).
The front of the church is in the Doric style evoking classical buildings such as the Hephaisteion at Athens that stands above the Agora.
The Mithraeum was excavated by William Francis Grimes on Walbrook in London. This has now been repositioned in the basement of Bloomberg Space. Visitors experience the darkness of the space and light levels are increased so that the remains can be seen.
Some of the sculptures are displayed in the nearby Museum of London. They include a relief of Ulpius Silvanus, formerly of the II Augustan legion (based at Caerleon). He appears to have been initiated to the cult at Orange in modern France.
The amphitheatre of Londinium lies in the north-west of the Roman town. It was discovered near to the Guildhall in the City of London in 1988 as part of the development of the area prior to the creation of the new Guildhall Art Gallery.
The amphitheatre appears to date to c. AD 74 or 75 based on dendrochronology. One of the timbers from the seating had Latin markings. The structure was adapted in the 90s, and expanded, in stone, during the reign of the emperor Hadrian.
Some of the remains have been preserved (and scheduled) in the basement of the Art Gallery. Visitors enter from the east through the main entrance. The sense of space has been recreated by lit displays.
See here for an earlier guide to the remains of Roman London.
Stuart Rigold (1919–80) joined the Ministry of Works as an Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments in 1948 under Bryan O’Neil. One of his first tasks was to write a short (paper) guidebook of the Pyx Chamber at Westminster Abbey and issued by the Ministry of Works (1949; 2 d.). It consists of four pages starting with the history, showing that this part of the abbey could be placed during the reign of King Edward the Confessor, followed by a description. Page 3 consists of a plan of the Pyx Chamber.
In 1953 Rigold revised John George Noppen’s guidebook (1935) to the Chapter House and Pyx Chamber at Westminster Abbey. Noppen (1887-1951) had earlier published Westminster Abbey and its Ancient Art (London, 1926) and A Guide to the Medieval Art of Westminster (London, 1927).
The Ministry guidebook consisted of a history, followed by an architectural description, then sections on the sculpture, the paintings, the tiled pavement, the windows, and the exhibits (including the Roman coffin of Valerius Amandinus, RIB 16). Rigold notes the recent damage to the windows during the air-raids of the Second World War. There is a fold-out plan at the back (showing the relationship between the chapter house and the Pyx Chamber).
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.
The 2016 figures are available for Leading Visitor Attractions in the UK (ALVA). The top attraction remains the British Museum with 6,420,395 visitors. The National Gallery is in second place with 6,262,839 visitors.
All attractions in the top 10 are in London.