Historic England has today (Thursday 9 November 2023) revealed its Heritage at Risk Register 2023. The Register gives an annual snapshot of the health of England’s valued historic buildings and places.
Over the past year, 43 historic buildings and sites have been added to the Register in the South West because they are at risk of neglect, decay or inappropriate development and 74 sites have been saved and their futures secured. In total in the South West, there are 1,348 entries on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2023 – 31 fewer than in 2022.
Across the South West, significant sites added to the Heritage at Risk Register 2023 include Oldway Mansion, Paignton – the opulent family home of the Singer family, inspired by the Palace of Versailles – and the remains of historic gig sheds on St Agnes, Isles of Scilly, now at risk of coastal erosion.
Significant sites saved and removed from the Heritage at Risk Register 2023 in the South West include Tolpuddle Old Chapel, Dorset, a building of vital importance to the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs; the 15th-century St Cleer Holy Well and Cross in Cornwall; and Cross Ridge Dyke on Godborough Castle earthwork in North Devon, saved by wildlife volunteers.
In 2022/2023, Historic England awarded £1.79 million in grants for repairs to 56 historic places and sites, including conservation areas, in the South West, on the Heritage at Risk Register.
Many buildings and sites have been rescued with the help and commitment of local people, communities, charities, owners, and funders including The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Historic England’s expert advice, grant aid, and creative thinking has also been key in delivering people’s visions for how these historic places can be used again. However, more work needs to be done as more buildings and places become at risk.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of the first national Heritage at Risk Register (previously known as the Buildings at Risk Register). Over the past 25 years, since it began in 1998, around 6,800 entries have been removed. This equates to around three-quarters of the entries that were on the original Register. Many of the remaining entries from the 1998 Register have seen good progress despite often being the hardest cases to solve.
Rebecca Barrett, South West Regional Director at Historic England, said: “Looking after and celebrating our heritage is so important. With the publication of the Heritage at Risk Register each year, I’m always inspired by the stories of communities coming together to help save historic buildings and places and to find new uses for them. After a quarter of a century of the Heritage at Risk Register, it’s inspiring to look back at the historic places now saved, and we look forward to finding new ways to involve local people in caring for and enjoying their heritage.”
Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “For a quarter of a century, the Heritage at Risk Register has helped to focus efforts to preserve cherished sites across the country. It is heartening to see that so many sites have had their futures secured and have been taken off the Register over the past year thanks to the hard work of Historic England and local people. I look forward to the new additions to the Register receiving similar care and attention so that future generations can continue to enjoy and learn from our rich heritage for years to come.”
Cllr Chris Lewis, Deputy Leader of Torbay Council, said; “Oldway is a much-loved community asset in Torbay. By partnering with Historic England, we can ensure that not only is the history of Oldway protected and preserved, but that together we can ensure it has a sustainable future that can be enjoyed in a range of different ways.
“Throughout 2023, Torbay Council has been running its ‘Developing a Resilient Future for Oldway’ project, engaging a team of consultation and the community to develop a shared, sustainable, and viable plan for Oldway Mansion. The final plan will be used to inform a programme of repairs and conversation that will bring Oldway back into use.
“2023 is shaping up to be a significant year for Oldway as we bring forward long-term partnerships with significant heritage bodies – demonstrating our commitment to raising the profile of heritage across Torbay.”
Sites added to the register across the South West in 2023 include:
· Nineteenth-century gig-shed north east of Porth Askin, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly (Scheduled Monument)
· Pendennis peninsula fortifications surrounding the castle, Falmouth, Cornwall. (Scheduled Monument)
· Oldway Mansion, Paignton, Devon (Grade II Listed)
A number of the sites such as Tolpuddle Old Chapel in the South West that have been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register have received crucial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “It is so heartening to see a number of significant heritage sites removed from the Heritage at Risk Register in the South West, and given a new lease of life as part of their local communities and places. Saving heritage at risk so that it can be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future, is core to our purpose, and we’re incredibly proud that the Heritage Fund has been able to support this important work to make this fantastic news possible.”
Sites rescued and removed from the Heritage at Risk Register in 2023 across the South West include:
· Late medieval packhorse bridge, Newport, Launceston, Cornwall (Scheduled Monument)
· Cross ridge dyke on Godborough Castle earthwork NW of Turner’s Wood, Torridge, Devon (Scheduled Monument)
· St Cleer Holy Well and Cross, Liskeard, Cornwall (Scheduled Monument and Grade I Listed)
· Tolpuddle Old Chapel (Former Methodist Chapel to the East of Martyr’s Cottages), Tolpuddle, Dorset (Grade II Listed)
The Heritage at Risk Register 2023 reveals that in the South West:
· 207 Buildings or Structures (Grade I and II* listed buildings and structural scheduled monuments across England, plus Grade II listed buildings in London)
· 153 places of worship
· 953 Archaeology entries (non-structural scheduled monuments)
· 17 parks and gardens
· 0 battlefields
· 0 protected wreck sites, and
· 18 conservation areas
…are at risk of neglect, decay or inappropriate change.
In total, there are 1,348 entries across the South West on the 2023 Heritage at Risk Register.
In total in England, there are 4,871 entries on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2023 – 48 fewer than in 2022.
· Across the country, 203 entries have been removed from the Register (for positive reasons), while 159 entries have been added because of concerns about their condition.
· Historic England awarded £7.63 million in grants for repairs to 155 sites on the Heritage at Risk Register during 2022/2023
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