Wenlock Priory: guidebooks

2020

The new English Heritage guidebook for the Cluniac priory at Wenlock adopts the new format for the series: a nearly square design that makes it easier to use on site than the previous tall format.

There are two main sections: the tour followed by a history. There are six ‘special features’ (what I would describe as information boxes) that include one on the Cluniac Order, and archaeology at the priory. The all colour guide includes a number of reconstructions, such as one for the chapter house, and an aerial view of the complex. (I miss the drama and atmosphere of an Alan Sorrell reconstruction!) The later history of the priory is included down to its placement in State Guardianship in 1962.

The guide by John McNeill includes a foldout plan inside the back cover, and a labelled photograph of the site on the folded out front cover. Both will help the visitor to understand the different parts of the monastic complex.

1965

The first Ministry guide to the site was by Rose Graham and was entitled ‘The history of the Alien Priory of Wenlock’ (1965). This reproduced her essay from the Journal of the British Archaeological Association (1939).

Caerleon: Roman barracks

Caerleon © David Gill

A set of Roman barracks from the legionary fortress at Caerleon (Isca Silurum) lies in the north-west corner in a location known as Prysg Field. They were excavated by Victor Nash-Williams from 1927 to 1929. Each of the four blocks that can be viewed would have held a century. The accommodation for the centurion was placed at the end of each block.

Caerleon © David Gill

Guidebooks to the Roman Frontier

1952 [5th impress. 1960]

The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne has had two features on the official Ministry and English Heritage guidebooks of Hadrian’s Wall in their News Bulletin:

David W. J. Gill, ‘Guiding us along the Roman wall’, 69 (September 2020), p. 3

Nick Hodgson, ‘Guiding us along the Roman frontier, Part II’, 70 (December 2020), p. 5

Corbridge (with update); Chesters (with update); Housesteads; Birdoswald; Hadrian’s Wall

Dunstanburgh Castle: guidebooks

Dunstanburgh Castle © David Gill

Dunstanburgh Castle on the Northumberland coast was placed in State Guardianship in 1929. Construction had started in 1313. The first official guide was published in 1936 with the section on the history of the castle by C.H. Hunter Blair, and the description by H.L. Honeyman. The cover carries the arms of Thomas, second Earl of Lancaster (1277–1322). There is a foldout plan inside the back cover. The guide continued into the 1970s.

1936 (2nd ed. 1955, 4th impress. 1962)
10th impress. 1973

A colour illustrated guide was prepared by Henry Summerson (1993). The main section is dedicated to a tour of the castle, and there is a helpful bird’s-eye view to help to orientate the visitor. There is a short section with biographical notes on Thomas of Lancaster and John of Gaunt.

1993

Alastair Oswald and Jeremy Ashbee prepared the English Heritage red guide (2007). This contains a bird’s-eye view and a plan of the castle on the fold-out card cover. The tour contains helpful thumbnail plans to help the visitor located their position. There is a section on Dunstanburgh and coastal defence during World War 2.

2007 (repr. 2016)

Hadrian’s Wall: official guides

HW_DOE_souvenir
1963 (1969)

A.R. Birley prepared ‘an illustrated guide’ to Hadrian’s Wall in 1963. This supplemented the guides to individual forts on the wall (Chesters, Housesteads) as well as the Stanegate (Corbridge). (See now the English Heritage guide to Birdoswald.) A foldout plan inside the card cover showed key locations between Wallsend and Bowness. There are some excellent reconstructions by Alan Sorrell (including one with an overlay to show the inside of the bath-house).

HW_card_MoW
1970

There was a fold-out MPBW guide to the Wall in 1970.

HW_souv_EH
1987 (3rd ed. 1996)

David J. Breeze prepared the Souvenir Guide to the Roman Wall, which is described inside the cover ass ‘The greatest monument to the Roman occupation of Britain’. Breeze has also prepared the Handbook to the Roman Wall. The guide includes South Shields and Vindolanda, as well as the Roman fort at Maryport on the Cumbrian coast.

HW_EH_red
2006

The souvenir guide was replaced by Breeze’s ‘Red Guide’ to Hadrian’s Wall. The tour goes from west to east and includes non English Heritage sites such as Maryport, Vindolanda, Wallsend and South Shields.

The Development of Guidebooks for Heritage Sites in England

StBotolph_OW
1917

These covers show the development from the first official guidebook (St Botolph’s) issued by the Office of Works through to English Heritage. These guides range from small booklets to concertina card guides.

For the development of guides in Scotland see here.

Pyx_Office_of_Works
1949

Scilly_green
1949 (repr. 1952)

Dartmouth_MW
1951 (repr. 1954)

corbridge_green_cov
1954

Osborne_MW
1955

Audley End
Audley End (1955)

Pevensey_green
1952 (repr. 1956)

 

Shap_MPBW
1963 (3rd impress. with amendments)

OldSarum_souv
1965

Goodrich_MPBW
1958 (5th impress. 1967)

Maison_Dieu_MPBW
1958 (3rd impress. with amendments 1967)

StantonDrew_MPBW
Revised 1969

Hetty_Pegler_DOE
1970

Aldborough_blue
1970

Helmsley_blue
1966 [3rd impress. 1971]

Saxtead_DOE_blue
1972

Glastonbury_DOE
(1973)

Egglestone_DOE
1958 (8th impress. 1976)

Totnes_DOE
1979

Stott_Park_DOE
1983

GrimesGraves_DOE_front
1984

Bayham_blue
1974 (1985)

Chysauster_EH_white
1987

EH_Orford_early
1964 (1982; English Heritage 1988; repr. 1975)

Middleham_EH_1993
1993

Portchester_EH
1990 (2000)

Tintagel_EH
1999 (repr. 2002)

Richborough_EH
(2012)

Furness_Piel_EH
1998 (rev. 2015)

Pendennis_StM_EH_red
2012 (2nd ed. 2018)

West Kennet Long Barrow: MPBW sign

west kennet-Edit
West Kennet Long Barrow © Patrick Taylor

The West Kennet long barrow was placed on the 1882 Schedule of Ancient Monuments. It now lies within the Avebury World Heritage Site. The scientific excavation took place in 1955–56.

Radiocarbon dates suggest that the monument was constructed in the period 3,700–3,600 BC, more than a millennium earlier than was thought in the 1960s.

Tintern Abbey: guidebooks

Tintern_DG_6
Tintern Abbey © David Gill

Tintern Abbey was transferred to the Office of Works in 1914. The guidebook was prepared by the architect Sir Harold Brakspear (1934). Brakspear had helped to plan the ruins after they were purchased by the Crown in 1901, and before they were conserved.

Tintern_MPBW_blue
1956 (repr. 1968)

A replacement ‘blue guide’ was prepared by O.E. Craster in 1956. This took the standard pattern of history followed by description. A plan of the abbey was placed in the centre pages.

Tintern_DOE_blue
1956 (9th impress. 1977)

Craster’s guide continued to be published into the 1970s. This included some elements in Welsh: Abaty Tyndyrn (on the title page, but not on the cover), and a short summary of just over one page at the beginning.

The centre page plan was placed on a fold-out plan inside the back cover. The glossary was expanded to include: ashlar, barrel vault, conversi, garth, jamb, lay brother, lintel, mullion, novice, papal bull, plinth, pulpitum, quire, refectory, screen, vestment and vestry. It also dropped: aisle, bay, boss, capital, crossing, floriated, sexfoil.

Tintern_souvenir_cov
1960; 1964, 2nd ed.; 1967, 3rd impress.

Craster also prepared the illustrated souvenir guide (1960; 2nd ed. 1964). It included historical background; a tour of the abbey; the first tourists. The tour is numbered on the plan.

Tintern_Cadw_card
1985

The tour in the souvenir guide in effect turns into the card guide that continued to be published under Cadw.

Tintern_Cadw
1986; 2nd ed. 1990; 3rd ed. 1995; 4th ed. 2002

The Cadw guidebook was prepared by David M. Robinson. This includes a history of the abbey, a section on building the abbey, and a tour of the abbey. A foldout plan (in colour) is printed inside the back (card) cover.

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’.

Stirling Castle: guidebooks

Stirling_blue
Second edition 1948, 7th impression 1967

Stirling_blue_HMSO
2nd ed. 1948 (8th impress. 1972)

The first edition of the guide to Stirling Castle was published in 1936: the description by J.S. Richardson, and the history by Margaret E. Root. A second edition appeared in 1948, and it continued as a ‘blue guide’ into the 1970s (note the move from guide-book to guide).

A fold-out plan was placed inside the back cover.

The cover of the Richardson and Root guide is ‘a drawing of a portrait medallion representing James V, one of a set of wood panels originally in the ceiling of the King’s Presence Chamber’. The heads were the subject of a monograph published by the Royal Commission in 1960. A booklet was issued by the Royal Commission in 1975, with the text by John G. Dunbar.

Stirling_heads_RC
1975

The Historic Scotland guide by Richard Fawcett was published in 1999. This consisted of a guide tour followed by the story (not history) of the castle.

Stirling_HS
1999 (repr. 2002)