Heritage Highlights: Did You Know?

Heritage Highlights showcases some of the more unusual, intriguing and groundbreaking historic places protected through this country's designation system. We hope these entries from the National Heritage List for England will excite and inspire people about our past. Even the most seemingly ordinary places often have an extraordinary story to tell.

By browsing the entries below, you might discover the history behind a building in your local area, chance upon a topic you are studying at school, or even become your own historic detective!

52 results found

  • Are the Statues of Soldiers on War Memorials Based on Real People?

    Made by a local masonry firm and unveiled in 1921, the Louth War Memorial is a moving reminder of the impact that successive wars had on this community.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: East Midlands

  • What was Proclaimed the 'Eighth Wonder of the World' on Completion in 1843, but 'An Entire Failure' Just a Decade Later?

    The Thames Tunnel, which dives under London?s central waterway, is a scheduled monument and international landmark, being the oldest tunnel in the oldest underground system in the world.

    Type of Designation: Scheduled Monuments

    Region: London

  • Where Does the Term 'Hobson's Choice' Come From?

    The famous phrase 'Hobson's choice' can be traced back to a Cambridge carrier who operated a livery stable delivering mail and providing transport to and from London in the early 17th century.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments

    Region: East of England

  • Where Was the World's First Programmable Computer Created?

    The Colossus now commonly regarded as the world's first programmable, digital computer evolved as an unintended by-product of the Allied intelligence-gathering process during the Second World War.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: South East

  • When Did England's First Filling Station Open?

    Surviving with its petrol pumps intact, the West End Garage in Turnastone, Herefordshire is one of the earliest of these and is now Grade II-listed.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: West Midlands

  • How Did Our Medieval Ancestors Cope with Flooding?

    Surviving examples of medieval defences are relatively rare, but one of the best is a stretch of embankment at Botolph's Bridge, West Hythe in Kent.

    Type of Designation: Scheduled Monuments

    Region: South East

  • Why Would a Cemetery Need a Railway Line?

    In the Victorian period the problem of where to bury the capital's dead became a serious issue. One solution was to establish a large multi-faith cemetery on spacious heathland 25 miles from central London.

    Type of Designation: Registered Parks and Gardens

    Region: South East

  • Why Can We Still See Marks of Sites Lost Thousands of Years Ago?

    'Cropmarks' form when plants over buried archaeology grow at different rates and heights compared to those in the rest of the field, particularly apparent during periods of dry weather. The best way to see these crop patterns is from the air.

    Type of Designation: Scheduled Monuments

    Region: East of England

  • Did Conkers Help to Win the First World War?

    In 1917, schoolchildren and Scouts were asked to collect horse chestnuts and acorns, specifically 'without the green husks'. Acetone was produced from this, a vital ingredient in the manufacture of cordite.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments

    Region: South West

  • Was the Whitehall Cenotaph Made of Wood?

    Its design and stone fabric suggests solid durability. Yet this permanence was not originally intended: the Cenotaph started life as a temporary wooden memorial.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: London

  • What Was the Arts and Crafts Movement?

    It was one of the few international trends to have originated in the British Isles, and the private house lay at its heart.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: East of England

  • Can Pigs Really Fly?

    The site of the former RAF Eastchurch, on a flat, windswept area of Kent's Isle of Sheppey, can rightly claim to be the birthplace of British aviation.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: South East

  • How Does Wood Survive Underground For Thousands of Years?

    Organic materials, such as wood, were used by our ancestors from the earliest times. However, wood rarely survives archaeologically, so our understanding of its use in the past is limited.

    Type of Designation: Scheduled Monuments

    Region: East of England

  • How Did Candles Light Up Post-War Cambridge?

    Cambridge is the last city in the UK to retain its own custom-designed lighting stock from the post-war period.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: East of England

  • Where is the Oldest Motor-Racing Circuit in the World?

    Contrary to what you might expect, the answer to this question does not lie in France or Italy, but leafy suburban Surrey.

    Type of Designation: Scheduled Monuments

    Region: South East

  • How Did Stone Posts Once Keep You 'on Tenterhooks'?

    A field - known as a 'tenterfield' - completely covered with long rows of carved stone posts used in the textile industry.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: Yorkshire

  • What's Beautiful About Brutalism?

    The term 'Brutalism' was coined by radical young architects in the 1950s.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: London

  • What Was Bath-Time Like for Roman Soldiers?

    Chesters Roman Fort has one of the best preserved Roman bathhouses in Britain which shows the various ways in which Roman soldiers kept clean centuries ago.

    Type of Designation: Scheduled Monuments

    Region: North East

  • Can You Purchase Paradise?

    A central belief in medieval times was in the power of 'intercession': the ability of priests, through prayer, to help the dead by 'purging' sins. This led to the founding of chantries.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: South West

  • Where Were Prisoners Locked Up Before Police Stations Existed?

    Village lockups can be found all over England, although the design varies from place to place.

    Type of Designation: Listed Buildings

    Region: South East

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