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Heritage at Risk in the East of England Revealed
Today, Historic England publishes its annual Heritage at Risk Register for 2022. The Register is the yearly health-check of England’s most valued historic places and those most at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
Highlights from sites saved in 2022
Over the past year, 21 historic buildings and sites have been added to the Register in the East of England because of their deteriorating condition and 39 sites have been saved and their futures secured. Many have been rescued thanks to heritage partners and dedicated teams of volunteers, community groups, charities, owners and councils, working together with Historic England.
Dating from 1846-7, Wisbech & Fenland Museum was one of the first purpose-built museums designed in the country and is of exceptional significance. Among the museum’s important collections is the original manuscript of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
There were major problems with the roof and drainage and leaks were damaging the historic interior of the museum. Historic England awarded a grant of £667,300 for roof repairs, which have now been completed and the museum is open to the public.
The Harwich Treadwheel Crane is believed to be the only surviving double-wheeled enclosed crane in the medieval tradition in England.
Restoration, thanks to funding from the government’s Heritage Stimulus Fund (part of the Culture Recovery Fund), included repair of the roof, timber frame and crane. The traditional technique of using Swedish Pine Tar and sail cloth to weatherproof the conical roof was used for probably the first time in around a hundred years. The Treadwheel Crane wheels are working for the first time in decades.
The Samuel Wyatt Vinery is an elegant Georgian glasshouse in the Walled Garden at the 18th century Holkham Hall. The Vinery had not been used for over a decade, due to its structurally dangerous condition.
Extensive repairs, funded by Historic England, have been made to the Vinery’s timber glasshouse structure and north stores, including restoration of the ornate fan light. The Vinery's planting scheme is being developed but likely to include vines, scented plants and citrus trees.
Highlights from sites added to the Register
In the East of England, 21 sites have been added to the register because of concerns about their condition. They are at risk of being lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
Built in 1873 by the industrialist E H Bentall as homes for his employees, the 41 single-storey cottages are a pioneering example of mass concrete construction.
Although the cottages were Grade II listed in 1971, several have been altered in ways that detract from their traditional character and some are in poor repair.
The cottages have been designated as a conservation area. The potential for a Conservation Area Partnership Agreement between Maldon District Council and Historic England is being explored, which, if successful, would make grant funding available to cottage owners for historically sensitive repair and restoration work.
The Second World War Heavy Anti-Aircraft (HAA) Battery is probably the most complete HAA battery of its type in England.
Historic tree planting has led to significant tree and plant growth. Masonry has been lost and one of the underground shelters has partly collapsed. The local council is taking action to reduce tree damage and is working with Historic England to secure the long-term future of this significant site.
The Church of St Andrew was built in the mid-14th to early 15th centuries. Its interior features a beautiful medieval nave roof and chancel stalls featuring carved poppy heads and panelling.
Cracking on the west and north faces of the tower is of particular concern, along with cracking at the west end of the north aisle. The tower buttress is bulging and there are cracks in the roof canopy. The roof, replaced with pine tiles in the late 1900s, is now rotting and needs replacing.
Heritage at Risk 2022 in brief
The Heritage at Risk Register 2022 reveals that in the East of England:
- 116 Buildings or Structures (Grade I and II* listed buildings and structural scheduled monuments across England)
- 110 places of worship
- 102 Archaeology entries (non-structural scheduled monuments)
- 10 parks and gardens
- 1 protected wreck site
- 51 conservation areas…are at risk of neglect, decay or inappropriate change.
In total, there are 390 entries across the East of England on the 2022 Heritage at Risk Register.