Yarmouth Castle: guidebooks


2003 [1978]

Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight was one of a series of defences for the Solent. It was constructed after a  French raid of 1545 during the reign of Henry VIII, and was nearly complete by the autumn of 1547. The castle continued to be used for coastal defence until 1885. The castle was placed in the care of the Office of Works in 1913.


1958 (repr. 1962)

S.E. Rigold wrote the first paper guide for the castle in 1958. It consisted of a detailed history (nearly five and a half pages) followed by a description. The centre page consists of a site plan along with plans of the ground, first and second floors. The price (in 1962) was 4d.


1985 (repr. 1987, 1990)

Rigold’s guide was reprinted in 1978, and formed the basis of the English Heritage ‘white’ guidebook (1985). This started wit ha description followed by the history.  It is illustrated with black and white photographs, and the centre pages use the 1958 plans though with updated typography. The text is also identical to the 1958 guide with the addition, ‘Since 1984 Yarmouth Castle has been in the care of English Heritage’.

The back cover of this guide bears the Gateway marketing.


1985 (repr. 1987, 1990)

The present English Heritage guidebook is essentially the same as the 1985 publication except with a colour cover (most recently reprinted in 2012).

Titchfield Abbey: guidebook


1954 (repr. 1962)

The Premonstratensian abbey at Titchfield was founded from the foundation at Halesowen in Worcestershire after 1214. It was dissolved in 1537 and Thomas Wriothesley had the buildings adapted into a residence.

The ruins were acquired by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries c. 1914–18, and their responsibility fell to the H.M. Office of Works in 1923. The site is now in the care of English Heritage.

The guidebook was written by Rose Graham (History) and S.E. Rigold (description). It consists of 12 pages, and the centre pages include a plan of the abbey.  The original price was 4 d. (1962).

Celebrating 100 Years of Guides to the National Heritage Collection



2017 marks the centenary of the first guidebooks to what can now be termed the National Heritage Collection. One of the first was written by Sir Charles Peers on St Botolph’s Priory in Colchester and now in the care of English Heritage. The guidebook was reissued as a ‘blue’ guide in 1964.

The 1917 guide include a fold-out plan of the priory inside the back cover. This was prepared by E. Dace Brown in July 1916. The guide was divided into three sections: The Augustinian Rule; History of St Botolph’s Priory; and The Priory Buildings.

Pevensey Castle: signage


Pevensey Castle © David Gill

Pevensey Castle was given to the Office of Works by the Duke of Devonshire in 1925. It became one of the front line defences of Britain in 1940.

Pevensey Castle was one of the Saxon Shore forts and was later reused as a medieval castle.

For guidebooks to the fort and castle see here.

Rievaulx Abbey: Guidebooks


1967 (4th impression 1974)

Rievaulx Abbey was placed in state guardianship in 1917 and the site cleared by Sir Charles Peers. Peers wrote the first official guidebook in 1928, and this became the blue guide that continued into the 1970s. This starts with a history (pp. 3-4), and then a guide (pp.5-15). There is a short paragraph on Rievaulx Terrace and Temples (cared for by the National Trust). There is a fold-out plan inside the back cover.


1967 (8th printing 1983)

The 8th printing was made in 1983. Note the slightly darker blue cover and the change of font.



This became the English Heritage Handbook to Rievaulx Abbey (1986), published by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England. This is essentially the same as the 1983 guide.



The current English Heritage guide  is by Peter Fergusson, Glyn Coppack and Stuart Harrison (2006). This follows the present arrangement of a tour followed by a history. Plans appear in the foldout back cover.



Rievaulx features in A Look Round the Monasteries of North-East Yorkshire by Alan Phillips (1962). Phillips was the author of the souvenir guides for the Edwardian castles of north Wales (e.g. Caernarfon, Harlech, Beaumaris).

Guidebook Design and Caernarfon Castle

I have commented on the series of guidebooks for Caernarfon Castle elsewhere. This short video presents the sequence of guidebooks from Sir Charles Peers (for the Office of Works) to Arnold Taylor’s long-running contribution (from the Ministry of Works to Cadw). I have include the souvenir guidebooks with the two variations by Kyffin Williams.

Guidebooks by Sir Charles Peers



Sir Charles Peers was the Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments and initiated the guidebooks to historic monuments (in England and Wales). It should be noted that several are sites in Yorkshire: Byland, Helmsley, Kirkham, Middleham, Richmond, and Rievaulx.

It is notable that some of these guides continued as English Heritage guides (e.g. Finchale Priory).