RSA Heritage Index: West Suffolk

The Norman Gate to the Abbey of St Edmund © David Gill

The 2020 RSA Heritage Index is now available. West Suffolk has been placed at 122nd in England: Ipswich is at 87th, and East Suffolk at 98th. West Suffolk’s strengths have been identified as Culture and Memories (69th) and Landscape and Natural Heritage (72nd). Surprisingly, given the importance of Bury St Edmunds, the Historic Built Environment is placed at 165th and Museums, Archives and Artefacts at 173rd.

RSA Heritage Index: Norwich and Norfolk

Norwich Castle © David Gill

The 2020 RSA Heritage Index is now available and Norwich is ranked as number 3 as a centre for heritage in England (up from number 9 in 2016). The city’s particular strengths are in Historic Built Environment (3rd up from 4th), Museums, Archives and Artefacts (7th up from 12th), and Culture and Memories (2nd down from 1st). There has also been a marked improvement for Parks and Open Space (28th up from 40th).

Norfolk as a county featured prominently. North Norfolk came 25th (up from 36 in 2016). Its main strengths included Historic Built Environment (33rd up from 71st), Landscape and Natural Heritage (22nd up from 27th), and Culture and Memories (75th up from 86th). There were also improvements in Museums, Archives and Artefacts (135th up from 141st) and Parks and Open Spaces (131st up from 137th).

Great Yarmouth did particularly well moving from 64th in 2016 to 38th. Its particular strengths were Industrial Heritage (22nd up from 40th), Parks and Open Spaces (56th up from 115th), and Historic Built Environment (85th up from 159th).

Kings Lynn and West Norfolk was ranked 54th (with a rise in Historic Built Environment, 39th), Breckland at 150th (with a rise in Historic Built Environment, 41st, and Museums, Archives and Artefacts, 117th), Broadland at 190th (with a strength in Landscape and Natural Heritage, 123rd), and South Norfolk at 219th (with a strength in Historic Built Environment, 63rd).

Across the region, Cambridge also featured in the top 10 at number 9 (up from 12th). Maldon moved from 40th to 37th (with moves in Historic Built Environment, 48th, and Museums, Archives and Artefacts, 125th), while Colchester remained unchanged at 140th (though with a move to 80th for Historic Built Environment). Ipswich fell from 70th in 2016 to 87th. East Suffolk was placed at 98th, and West Suffolk at 122nd.

Landguard Heritage Landscape

WW2 defences at Landguard © David Gill

The Victorian Landguard Fort stands in the middle of rich heritage landscape that marks the defence of this strategic area around (and opposite) the port of Harwich during the Second World War.

In the foreground is the base for mounting a searchlight, and behind it a pillbox. To the rear of the image, on the perimeter of the fort, are the two control towers located at Darrell’s Battery.

These features form part of the Landguard Nature Reserve.

WW2 defences at Landguard © David Gill

For details of WW2 archaeology in Suffolk.

Martello Towers and the Suffolk Coast

Slaughden, Aldeburgh © David Gill

The Martello Tower at Slaughden, to the south of Aldeburgh, is the most northerly of the east coast towers: there were originally 18 in Suffolk. It has an unusual quatrefoil design. The series was constructed between 1808 and 1812 to prevent an invasion during the Napoleonic Wars.

Shingle Street © David Gill

The tower at Shingle Street is a more standard round design.

Alderton © David Gill

The tower at Alderton is located to the south of Shingle Street. (Notice the WW2 pill box located to the north.) This gives a view towards the next two towers at Bawdsey and Bawdsey Cliffs.

Felixstowe Ferry from Bawdsey Quay © David Gill

A single tower guarded the entrance to the Deben at Felixstowe Ferry opposite Bawdsey.

Heritage for Inclusive Growth

2020

The RSA has published its report, ‘Heritage for Inclusive Growth‘ (2020). It includes a number of case studies:

  • New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
  • Dundee, Scotland
  • Mid and East Antrim Museum and Heritage Service
  • St Fagans National Museum of History
  • Don’t Settle
  • Welsh Streets
  • Growth Lancashire
  • Margate Townscape Heritage Initiatives

Heritage tourism: East Anglia

Ickworth © David Gill

The top seven paid heritage visitor attractions in East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) account for 1.1 million visitors a year (2018). Four are properties managed by the National Trust: Ickworth, Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall, and Oxburgh Hall. Framlingham Castle is managed by English Heritage.

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery © David Gill

There is a single museum, the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.

Sheringham Station, the Poppy Line © David Gill

The Poppy Line (North Norfolk Railway) is also in the top seven.

Chart © David Gill

Orford Ness lighthouse dismantled

Orford Ness Lighthouse © David Gill

Work has started to dismantle the lighthouse on Orford Ness due to coastal erosion (Martin Barber and Luarence Cawley, “Orfordness Lighthouse is dismantled as sea edges closer“, BBC News 16 July 2020). It is hoped to place elements of the lighthouse elsewhere on the ness.

See earlier account.

Quay Place to close

Quay Place, opening 2016 © David Gill

In October 2016 Quay Place opened in Ipswich. It was a partnership between the Churches Conservation Trust and Suffolk Mind, and allowed this fine medieval church to have a new lease of life. The project was presented as a case study in the DCMS Heritage Statement (2017).

It has now been announced that Quay Place is due to close due to the financial squeeze caused by the pandemic (“Coronavirus: Suffolk Mind to close Ipswich’s Quay Place“, BBC News 15 June 2020). The future of the building is unclear.

East Anglia’s Heritage and Recovery

Norwich Cathedral, Binham Priory, Framlingham Castle, Castle Rising, Ickworth © David Gill

The rich range of heritage in East Anglia contributes to the visitor economy. In ‘normal’ times Ickworth is one of the National Trust’s most visited properties (with over a quarter of a million visitors in 2018). Norwich cathedral and castle are key attractions for anyone visiting the city.

But 2020 is not going to be a ‘normal’ year.

What sort of sites will attract visitors as the heritage sector starts to re-open? Will they be the out of the way locations like Binham Priory? Or the parkland surrounding Ickworth? What about the landscape surrounding the prehistoric mines at Grimes Graves?

This Thursday, 18 June 2020, Tech East and Norfolk County Council, in partnership with the New Anglia LEP and Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, will be holding Tourism + Tech, a ½ day conference aimed at helping tourism businesses recover and grow. One of the key questions to be asked is how can digital help to grow and transform visitor economy businesses?

Key speakers include Pete Waters, Executive Director of Visit East of England, James Kindred of Big Drop Brewing Co., and Jason Middleton, Programmes Manager at New Anglia LEP.

10 key heritage sites in Suffolk

10 key heritage sites in Norfolk

The severed portrait head from the Alde

Portrait of the Emperor Claudius (British Museum) © David Gill

The bronze head of the Emperor Claudius (or perhaps Nero) was found in the spring of 1907 in the River Alde at Rendham, west of Saxmundham, in Suffolk. As Jocelyn Toynbee observed: ‘The lower line of the neck is torn and ragged, and there can be little doubt but that this head was violently hacked from its body and carried off as loot from some important Roman centre’. The suggestion is that it was removed from the Roman colony at Colchester: see Janet Huskinson, CSIR GB I, 8, no. 23.

The head (‘The Saxmundham Claudius’) was purchased by the British Museum after it had been sold at Sotheby’s in 1965 (inv. 1965.12-01.1).