We have just launched a new series on our website highlighting fascinating historic sites, as part of our celebrating 100 years of heritage protection. They are all protected and their details are held in the online National Heritage List for England, hence it is called ‘Landmark Listings’, even though it showcases all the different types of legal protection. I work in the Designation Department, leading one of the small teams that recommends to Government which buildings or archaeological sites should be protected (or not). We also register historic parks and gardens, and battlefields.
It’s not expensive, but in these difficult times every penny has to be properly spent, so we are very clear about the value of what we do. We respond in part to applications from members of the public and professionals, so I know first-hand the great enthusiasm and knowledge people have for the historic environment. However, I also know that a lot of people don’t think about it at all, or don’t believe it is relevant to them. Of course, different things interest different people, but I’m sure many would be surprised at how important the historic environment is to them. I don’t mean economically, for tourism or for supporting property values in historic towns, say; though it undoubtedly is. I was meaning personally, in their lives. Everyone engages with the historic environment every day: on their way to work, walking the dog, shopping in town, drinking in their local. They may not realise it consciously, but they enjoy it and it is important to them because it is where they live, grew up, raised their children, and where many have before them, perhaps for thousands of years.
It’s our job in English Heritage to protect these places – not all by any means, but the very best bits. As experts we can often see what others don’t: that there is sometimes a surprise – that something you see, know of where you live, or walk past every day, has a connection to an important innovation, event or person in the history of England; in the story of who we are. And that’s what ‘Landmark Listings’ is going to highlight. One of the series is an ordinary C19 factory, but what happened there brought about a major change to everyone’s lives the world over. Another may at first seem an empty field, but in fact what lies beneath the grass is evidence of a crucial development in our history that affects the way you are living your life. Hopefully, some of you reading this will be thinking that there is a good example where you live. If that’s the case tell us, and we will add the best to our series. It has been great fun putting together the 50 or so entries that we will show you. There will be a different type of site every week. I hope you enjoy them and do let us know what you think.
Tony Calladine – Designation Team Leader, East