I am rather excited about the new Heritage Highlights project. The first one, Landmark Listings, went down well, and I think this one will be just as good. Last time, we used the National Heritage List for England to show that historic buildings and monuments have connections with iconic events in the history of England. This time, we want to show that buildings and monuments can also provide answers to intriguing questions, such as ‘are the statues of soldiers on war memorials based on real people?‘ or ‘ what was proclaimed the eight wonder of the world on completion in 1843, but ‘an entire failure’ just a decade later?’.
We’ve come up with 52 questions and answers which we hope will encourage you to look at historic sites in your town, provide inspiration for an essay, or just be really interesting. We will be asking the questions first on Twitter and Google+ and it will be great to see if you can get the answers before we tell you.
I am often asked, ‘why do we protect historic sites?’. The answer is not a quick one to give, but I think in large part it is because these sites hold the knowledge and wisdom of our forefathers that can help us to improve and enrich our lives today. You don’t have to live in a tourist attraction, like Lavenham or Wells, to enjoy them. Every town has its old buildings or historic monuments. When you walk down your high street, if you look above the modern shop fronts, you are more than likely to see something interesting to investigate, and if it’s listed, the National Heritage List for England will answer any questions you have.
You may find answers to questions you didn’t even know you wanted to ask, about things where you live that you have never noticed before. Where I live, in Ely, what visitors notice straight away is the cathedral, what they don’t notice, even though they will almost certainly walk past it, is the evidence of the Norman castle. The National Heritage List for England is such a great mine of information, and it’s very under-used for research. We are working hard to improve it and update it every day, so have a look for yourself.
I hope you enjoy new Landmark Listings. Do let us know if you can add more information to our answers, or if you have better answers than we do, and also let us know in the comments below if you have a really good question that you want us to answer. Enjoy!
Tony Calladine, Head of Designation at English Heritage.