Viewing the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo

IMG_2054-Edit copy

Sutton Hoo © David Gill

The new viewing platform adjacent to the site of the ship-burial at Sutton Hoo is developing. At the moment it looks rather stark against the tree line but the plan is to blend it into the background.

The 2014 temporary tower gave a totally new perspective on the site. I very much hope that the new tower will help visitors to understand a little bit more about the site.

SuttonHoo2015041

View over the Sutton Hoo burial site (April 2015) © David Gill

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’.

Pendennis and St Mawes: guidebooks

IMG_5827-Edit

Pendennis Castle © David Gill

The castles at Pendennis and St Mawes were built to protect the Carrick Roads and Falmouth in Cornwall. Both appear to have been completed by 1543. They formed part of a wider network of coastal castles, including Deal and Walmer, and the Solent. For further details of the programme of defence see here.

Both castles were placed in State Guardianship in 1920 (from the War Office), and they were requisitioned for military purposes in the Second World War. They were re-opened to the public in 1946.

Pendennis_DOE

1963 (5th impress. 1972)

A souvenir guide was produced in 1963, was continued into the 1970s under the Department of the Environment. This provides a guide to both castles as well as a historical introduction.

Pendennis_StM_EH

1999 (repr. 2002)

English Heritage produced a colour guide to both castles in 1999 by Richard Linzey. It includes tours of both castles, as well as a page on the National Trust property of St Anthony Head Battery.

Pendennis_StM_EH_red

2012 (2nd ed. 2018)

The latest guide by Paul Pattison has extended tours of both castles. There are special topics that include smuggling and piracy, the submarine minefield, as well as St Anthony Head. Foldout plans are printed inside the cover.

The Tin Coast and Poldark

IMG_6114-Edit

The Crowns Engine Houses at Botallack © David Gill

The BBC Drama Series ‘Poldark‘ is set in Cornwall in what is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ‘Tin Coast‘ includes the Crowns Engine Houses at Botallack in the care of the National Trust.

Heritage locations used in the filming of the series have been listed by Visit Cornwall.

Sutton Hoo: visualising the burials

4776018581359279744_IMG_1947

Sutton Hoo sculpture © David Gill

Visitors to the cemetery at Sutton Hoo sometimes find it hard to visualise a ship under the mound. The NLHF supported project has allowed a ship sculpture to be inserted in the courtyard next to the cafe and shop. The central part maps out the finds on the ‘burial chamber’.

6825720786081704851_IMG_1941

Burial details in the Sutton Hoo sculpture © David Gill

This contrasts with the reconstructed display in the original exhibition at the site.

suttonhoo-1320

Reconstructed ship burial at National Trust Sutton Hoo © David Gill

Leading Visitor Attractions 2018: National Trust

IMG_3028.JPG

Waddesdon Manor © David Gill

The figures for Leading Visitor Attractions in 2018 have been published. The top National Trust sites are:

  • Giants Causeway [35]: 1,011,473 [+2.7%]
  • Clumber Park [59]: 657,443 [+4%]
  • Carrick-a-Rede [72]: 491,947 [+13%]
  • Attingham Park [73]: 484,581 [+4%]
  • Cliveden [74]: 483,754 [-1%]
  • Waddesdon Manor [77]: 466,158 [-0.86%]
  • Belton House [83]: 422,682 [-5%]
  • Stourhead [86]: 393,779 [+3%]
  • Fountains Abbey Estate [88]: 388,500 [-8%]
  • Calke Abbey [90]: 384,561 [-1%]
  • Mottisfont [92]: 376,043 [+3%]
  • Anglesey Abbey [93]: 370,506 [-5%]
  • Nymans Garden [99]: 354,502 [+4%]
  • Kingston Lacy [101]: 353,653 [+9%]
  • St Michael’s Mount [103]: 347,773 [-1%]
  • Polesden Lacey [104]: 347,149 [-2%]
  • Dunham Massey [110]: 310,093 [+7%]
  • Sheffield Park [111]: 306,692 [+8%]
  • Wimpole Estate [113]: 304,191 [-12%]
  • Tyntesfield [116]: 301,765 [-3%]
  • Hardwick Hall [119]: 285,379 [+2%]
  • Lanhydrock [120]: 273,149 [+4%]
  • Killerton [121]: 267,383 [+7%]
  • Bodnant Garden [125]: 254,227 [+1%]
  • Ickworth [126]: 254,073 [-7%]
  • Dyrham Park [127]: 251,631 [0%]
  • Chartwell [128]: 246,336 [+3%]
  • Quarry Bank [130]: 240,277 [-5%]
  • Corfe Castle [131]: 237,992 [-4%]
  • Wallington [132]: 236,825 [+1%]
  • Cragside Estate [133]: 236,672 [+3%]
  • Mount Stewart [137]: 226,577 [+4%]
  • Baddesley Clinton [140]: 221,703 [+1%]
  • Trelissick [141]: 214,034 [+7%]
  • Saltram [146]: 209,755 [+7%]
  • Stowe [147]: 208,644 [-1%]
  • Charlecote Park [148]: 208,289 [-5%]
  • Dunster Castle [150]: 204,625 [-2%]
  • Speke Hall [151]: 204,134 [+6%]
  • Shugborough Estate [152]: 203,652 [+27%]
  • Packwood House [153]: 202,114 [-8%]
IMG_3794

Stowe © David Gill

Politically correct heritage – storming in a (bone china) teacup.

An understated comment and warning by the Director General of Historic Houses in the members’ magazine before Christmas has been picked up by the Spectator and the Telegraph and turned into an argument that the National Trust is continuing to pursue a politically correct agenda in the presentation of its properties open to the public.

The Prejudice and Pride activity programme, report and research by the National Trust and Leicester University, which followed the 2017 celebration marking 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act (1967), which partially decriminalised homosexuality in England, provided an opportunity to understand heritage better, reflecting on the legacy of those LGBTQ individuals whose stories have not been fully told.

The Historic Houses Director-General, Ben Cowell, picked up on a specific point in the programme’s accompanying report which suggested the the focus on family history at National Trust houses results in ‘a narrative that privileges heterosexual lives’, leading to ‘a heteronormative emphasis’ on the line of succession (who married whom, which children they had, and all that).  Cowell questions whether in future succession might only reluctantly be acknowledged in interpretation, and states a hope that we shouldn’t end up with complex historical circumstances at a house being reduced to ‘a single (progressive) story‘.

Rod Liddle, writing in the Spectator on January 12th, has enlarged on the ‘mild rebuke‘ of the National Trust by Ben Cowell, into an opinion piece which laments that Historic Houses is on the wrong side of history, and that sadly, everything is now ‘reducible to a single (progressive) story which takes no account of historical realities.’  Liddle ends by opining, ‘the past is not, as Historic Houses quietly suggested it was, a foreign country where people do things differently. The past either did not exist or should not have existed, and those aspects which conflict with our modern sensibilities must be airbrushed out of the picture’.  

Amusingly, The Telegraph, has taken the opinion piece a step further (January 25th), suggesting that a row over revisionism has started, ‘with one prominent conservator [Cowell, in his original Historic Houses Magazine column] suggesting the Trust would “jar with the realities of history” if it tried to play down the role of families who have looked after stately homes for centuries, without whom they would not exist.‘  The story goes on to regurgitate previous accusations of the Trust acting in a politically correct way, reminding readers of the row started at Felbrigg in 2017, when the Trust “outed” Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, the late owner of the hall, leading to volunteers at the site refusing to wear rainbow lanyards; and the accusation by the Church of England that the Trust was “airbrushing faith” by not using the word ‘Easter’ in its annual chocolate egg hunt sponsored by Cadburys.

The Telegraph piece didn’t refer to the Mail’s NT-PC story from the back end of last year, when a visitor spotted a timeline at Avebury Manor using BCE / CE (before common era / common era) instead of AD / BC labelled dates.  It is, however, a theme which the Telegraph does tend to revisit, having reported on the Trust chairman’s end of year (2017) internal memo to staff, and then again with an opinion piece geared around Cragside covering up busts and paintings of men, under the wonderfully provocative banner, “Nobody joins the National Trust to be subjected to politically correct agitprop“.

The National Trust has indeed changed its approach to presenting its properties, beginning to foreground alternative histories relevant to its properties and stories around gender, slavery, equality, and sexual orientation which wouldn’t necessarily have featured previously, as it tries to make the experience of its sites more inclusive, and aims to attract a more diverse audience.  Has it become politically correct though?  Probably not. The jury is likely to continue to play this out in the press, from varying standpoints and with more or less accompanied eye-rolling at an organisation perceived to be at the centre of the heritage ‘establishment’, and therefore a good target for critique by journalists.

This is all perhaps more instructive in media studies terms rather than anything else, with ideas of left or right-leaning politics, establishment and subversion, all thrown together with more than a sprinkling of journalistic license to create a storm in a bone china teacup. A great case study for my heritage management students has written itself.