Sam Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust. Over the next few months he will be following the politics of preserving our heritage.
Finally there is some good news for Britain’s heritage as George Osbourne unveiled the new government budget yesterday. It specifically designates £1 million for the Magna Carta Trust, as in 2015 it will be 800 years since good ol’ King John issued this globally influential piece of our constitution.
This is especially welcoming since the National Trust owns the land where it was first sealed (near Runnymede). See anniversary events here.
The budget had even squeezed a cool £20 million for Cathedral renovation in anticipation of the First World War Centenary.
This is particularly good considering these recent times have not been so beneficial for British heritage. Last June, the government announced further cuts to its investment into the heritage sector.
These cuts were not the first. When the Coalition government first came to power in 2010, heritage took an initial battering of cuts from the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Ironically, last year had also been the centenary of the landmark 1913 Ancient Monuments Act. This legislation had revolutionised the way this country protected it’s heritage sites. It had been the first time in which the government was directly stepping in to protect these sites. Terms of the act included:
- Compulsory ‘Preservation Order’ on monuments at risk of demolition by a private owner.
- ‘Scheduling’ of monuments- once a site was on the list and the owner informed, it became a crime to damage it.
- Under the Act, the Office of Works could give free advice to an owner regarding the treatment of an ancient monument on their land and could oversee any works free of charge
Prior to this act, England had a notoriously bad record with its heritage sites.
For example, the biggest loss included the demolition of Shakespeare’s final house. Reverend Francis Gastrell, who bought the house in 1753, became irritated with tourists wanting to see it and pulled the house down. Find more information here.
Considering our nation’s poor track record with heritage over the last few centuries, it is good to see the government honouring important anniversaries like the Magna Carta and WWI.
Follow my blog over the next few months where I will be exploring the politics and challenges facing our heritage today. @weaversamuel2
He is a recent History graduate from the University of the West of England. When not selling sausages in a deli, he usually occupies himself by researching and blogging on our nation’s more overlooked heritage.