Detail of corbels in the nave at Gorton Monastery, Greater Manchester.
Constructive Conservation. Gorton Monastery, Gorton Lane, Manchester, Greater Manchester. Detail of corbels in nave. © Historic England DP059831
Constructive Conservation. Gorton Monastery, Gorton Lane, Manchester, Greater Manchester. Detail of corbels in nave. © Historic England DP059831

Monitoring Public Access

We monitor places we have grant-aided to make sure that the benefits of grant are maintained. Here you can find the report of the 2014 survey. We will repeat this survey in 2020.

Anonymous visits

In 2014 (under our former name of English Heritage) we appointed a contractor to make anonymous visits to some of the grant-aided places listed on our website. The aim was to make sure that public access was being provided in line with the agreed arrangements. We chose Mystery Shoppers Ltd, a contractor with national coverage who could provide locally based visitors. This helped minimise the cost of the survey.

Mystery Shoppers Ltd carried out the fieldwork during July - September 2014. They submitted their report to us in October. We welcome their findings and are pleased to publish their report here:

Report results

The report shows that in 74 of the 81 visits the anonymous visitor could visit the properties as advertised. Our Local teams have contacted the grant recipients for the seven properties that weren't open to find out the reasons why and discuss any practical problems with opening to the public. Our aim is to make sure that the properties can be visited and that we are publishing the correct information. In all of the seven cases, we have found that there were reasonable circumstances for the property not being open.

The staff were warm, welcoming and appeared happy to allow people to view the original features.

Visitor to a grant-aided property.

This high level of compliance maintains the excellent picture which we found when we last carried out such a survey. We are grateful to the owners, managers and volunteers who work so hard to open their properties. We are delighted that successful grant-aided repair projects lead to lasting benefits for the visiting public in this way.

The owners were very friendly and the castle provided a very pleasant and enjoyable visit. We were also provided with the opportunity to collect some fruit from the fruit trees to take away with us.

Visitor to a grant-aided property.

Updates we have made

We were glad to see that in the majority of cases the details we publish were accurate. The anonymous visitors did identify some cases where the quality and accuracy of the published details could be improved. Our Local Teams checked the issues raised to make sure that these cases were updated in 2015.

We also noted that some visitors thought that they would be able to access some areas described that they couldn't. We have now made a change to our web page to make it clear that some features may not be accessible.

We are pleased that the visitors rated the overall process so highly. They scored 51% of the visits as excellent with 94% scoring as excellent- fair. This works out as 99% of the open properties.

This shows that a warm welcome and a rewarding trip can be expected by those visiting these properties. This is regardless of whether they are usually open to the public as visitor attractions.

This was an excellent tour and I would be happy to recommend it to friends and family.

Visitor to a grant-aided property.

What visitors said about the properties

The positive response is borne out by some of the comments of the visitors, examples of which are displayed as quotes on this page.

This was a great visit, which was easy to arrange and guided in a positive and supportive manner.

Visitor to a grant-aided property.
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