Pendennis and St Mawes: guidebooks

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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’.

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Burial details in the Sutton Hoo sculpture © David Gill

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

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Reconstructed ship burial at National Trust Sutton Hoo © David Gill

Leading Visitor Attractions 2018: National Trust

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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%]
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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.

Top 10 Heritage Sites for Suffolk

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Sutton Hoo © David Gill

I have been reviewing the summer and thinking about the key heritage sites in Suffolk. I have put the ten locations in a broadly chronological order.

Sutton Hoo. The Anglo-Saxon ship-burial site is one of the most important archaeological sites in the UK. The spectacular finds are displayed in the British Museum.

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The gatehouse to the Abbey, Bury St Edmunds © David Gill

The Abbey of St Edmund. The abbey precinct contains the ruined abbey as well as two impressive gatehouses. The present cathedral stands alongside the former abbey church.

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Blythburgh © David Gill

Blythburgh church. Suffolk has numerous medieval churches but Blythburgh is probably one of the most impressive. The setting with the marshes enhances the visit.

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Lavenham © David Gill

Lavenham, Guildhall. The Guildhall at Lavenham stood at the heart of the medieval community.

Clare Castle

Clare Castle © David Gill

Clare Castle. It is hard to beat a castle that has a (disused) railway station in its outer bailey. The castle provides good views over Clare with its splendid church.

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Orford Castle © David Gill

Orford Castle. The castle at Orford provides a wonderful platform to view part of the Suffolk coast including the twentieth century Cold War remains on Orford Ness.

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Ickworth © David Gill

Ickworth. The Rotunda at Ickworth dominates the landscape and can be viewed from the Italianate gardens.

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Museum of East Anglian Life © David Gill

Museum of East Anglian Life. This outdoor museum in Stowmarket brings together different elements of rural life in the region. The riverside walk provides a good opportunity to spot wildlife.

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East Anglia Transport Museum © David Gill

East Anglia Transport Museum. This gem of a museum provides train, tram and trolleybus rides, exhibits of signs, and displays from the now dismantled Southwold railway.

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Palace House, Newmarket © David Gill

Newmarket, Palace House. Newmarket is synonymous with horseracing and the exhibitions have everything from Greek pottery to modern art, physiological displays, and memorabilia. Visitors can even take an automated ride.

This is very much a personal list, and it reflects some of the key locations.

 

Guidebooks by W. Douglas Simpson

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1959 (6th impress. 1969)

W. Douglas Simpson (1896–1968) prepared a series of Ministry guidebook for sites in State Guardianship. He was lecturer in British History at the University of Aberdeen (by 1924), and then He served as Librarian and Registrar for the University of Aberdeen from 1926 through to 1966. He served as Chair of the Ancient Monuments Board for Scotland. He was awarded OBE (1954) and CBE (1962).

In 1959 Simpson prepared Scottish Castles: An Introduction to the Castles of Scotland (HMSO, 1959). In the Foreword he wrote: ‘Those who read this little book will come to realise that, small and poor as it has always been, Scotland yet possesses a distinctive castellated architecture, and one of which any nation might be proud’. There are eight sections:

  • The earliest castles
  • Castles of enceinte
  • The early tower houses
  • Bastard feudalism and the later castles
  • The later tower houses
  • The royal palaces
  • Firearms and the later “House of Fence”
  • The Scottish baronial style

Portrait here.

Several of the castles and abbeys he studied were located around Aberdeen: Tolquhon Castle (1948), Huntly Castle (1954), Kildrummy and Glenbuchat (1957); the Abbey of Deer (1952).

Kirkcudbrightshire: Threave Castle (1948)

Angus: Edzell Castle (1952); Restenneth Priory (1952)

Isle of Bute: Rothesay Castle (1952)

Midlothian: Craigmillar (1954), Crichton (1957)

East Lothian: Hailes Castle

Inverness-shire: Urquhart (1964); Beauly Priory (1954)

Roxburghshire: Hermitage (1957)

Lanarkshire: Bothwell Castle (1958)

Orkney: Kirkwall (1965)

The guidebook for Dunstaffnage (1981) contains his draft.

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(1954)

He also prepared (with V. Gordon Childe) the Illustrated Guide to Ancient Monuments … vol 6: Scotland (1954).

He prepared one guidebook for the National Trust for Scotland: Craigievar Castle, the rock of Mar (1966) (NTS). This castle is located to the west of Aberdeen.

Simpson also prepared two guidebooks for castles in England: Brough Castle, Cumbria (1949; repr. 1969) (now English Heritage); Bodiam Castle (1965) for the National Trust.

 

Hall, A. (2004, September 23). Simpson, William Douglas (1896–1968), archaeologist and historian. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. Retrieved 5 Aug. 2018, from http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-49530.