New Book | Men from the Ministry: How Britain Saved Its Heritage

Posted in books by Editor on July 2, 2013

Available in August from Yale UP:

Simon Thurley, Men from the Ministry: How Britain Saved Its Heritage (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-0300195729, $45.

9780300195729Between 1900 and 1950 the British state amassed a huge collection of over 800 historic buildings, monuments, and sites and opened them to the public.  This engaging book explains why the extraordinary collecting frenzy took place, locating it in the fragile and nostalgic atmosphere of the interwar years, dominated by neo-romanticism and cultural protectionism. The government’s activities were mirrored by the establishment of dozens of voluntary bodies, including the Council for the Protection of Rural England, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, and the National Trust. Men from the Ministry sets all this activity, for the first time, in its political, economic and cultural contexts, painting a picture of a country traumatized by war, fearful of losing what was left of its history, and a government that actively set out to protect them. It dissects a government program that established a modern state on deep historical and rural roots.

Simon Thurley is the Chief Executive of English Heritage. He was formerly the Director of the Museum of London, and the Curator of Historic Royal Palaces.

English Heritage to Become a Charitable Trust

Posted in museums by Editor on July 2, 2013


From English Heritage (26 June 2013) . . .

The Government has announced that it will work with English Heritage to consult on establishing a charity to care for the historic properties in the National Heritage Collection on a self-financing basis, supported by Government investment of £80 million. English Heritage will be awarded this one-off lump sum to invest in the National Heritage Collection of 420 historic sites, monuments and collections in its care. This will support its plan to transfer management of the Collection to a charity, licensed by English Heritage’s governing body, The Commission. This investment in historic properties across the entire country will create jobs and boost local economies.

The National Heritage Collection, which includes Stonehenge, Kenwood, Audley End, Dover Castle and Charles Darwin’s home Down House in Kent, will remain in public ownership. However, the new charity will have more freedom to generate greater commercial and philanthropic income to safeguard and present to the public what is arguably England’s most vulnerable and important collection of cultural treasures.

Under current plans, the new charity will be set up by March 2015. It will retain the name English Heritage and in due course, will be completely self-financing and no longer need tax-payer support. (more…)

Campaigning to Save the Chapel at Bretton Hall Park

Posted in on site by Editor on July 2, 2013

Press release (20 May 2013) . . .


Sir William Wentworth, Chapel of Bretton Hall Park, 1744
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

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Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is campaigning to save one of the oldest surviving buildings on the Bretton Estate and transform it into a gallery space. The 270-year-old YSP Chapel is in an urgent state of repair and must be restored soon, in order to keep it open to the public. The Park’s fundraisers have secured financial support from English Heritage, Country Houses Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation and The Pilgrim Trust but are £100,000 short of the £500,000 needed to complete the full restoration plan. They are now asking visitors and supporters to give whatever they can to help reach the total.

Andy Carver, Director of Development at YSP said: “At a time when public funding is becoming increasingly scarce, we depend on the people and organisations that love YSP to give us their financial support. Restoring the chapel is an important and exciting project for us; it will mean that we can keep this historic building open for future generations to enjoy and allow us to programme new exhibitions of sculpture in the beautiful, tranquil space. At the moment, the conditions in the chapel aren’t suitable for some types of art works and structurally it is deteriorating quite badly. The restoration will bring the building back to its former glory and give us a unique and versatile space for exhibitions and events.”

Built in 1744 by Sir William Wentworth, the Georgian sandstone chapel is a historically important part of the Bretton Estate. Nestled within the YSP Country Park, the Grade II* listed building was at the heart of life on the estate during the 18th and 19th centuries. Renovation plans include replacing the roof, making extensive structural repairs and installing heating. An improved path from YSP Centre and disabled access to the building is also in the pipeline. (more…)

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