Decorative ceiling rose painted yellow and blue
Decorative ceiling rose at Newport Guildhall being supported. The building was designed by John Nash, who had strong links with the Isle of Wight. © Historic England Archive. DP301389
Decorative ceiling rose at Newport Guildhall being supported. The building was designed by John Nash, who had strong links with the Isle of Wight. © Historic England Archive. DP301389

Heritage at Risk in the South East Revealed

Historic England has published 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, 11 historic buildings and sites have been added to the Register in the South East because of their deteriorating condition and 11 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.

Saved: Swing bridge, Oxford (Scheduled Monument)

The Swing Bridge is one of only two moving bridges on the Thames – the other being Tower Bridge in London. It was designed by the engineer Robert Stephenson and built in 1850-1.

The bridge is an important and unique site which tells the story of the nation’s railways. In 2020, ownership was transferred from Network Rail to the Oxford Preservation Trust. Following funding from Historic England, Network Rail, the Railway Heritage Trust and fundraising by the Preservation Trust, extensive repairs were completed in summer 2022.

Saved: Former Police Barracks, Gosport (Grade II*)

The Former Police Barracks was constructed at the entrance to Haslar Gunboat Yard - built to house the fleet used during the Crimean War - in the mid-19th century. The building had accommodation space for an inspector and three sergeants, with a dormitory for constables.  

Historic England provided grant aid towards the repairs. With the building wind and weathertight, the Army Sailing Association, in collaboration with Hornet Services Sailing Club, is now progressing a programme of internal refurbishment. The building is due to reopen as part of the Army Offshore Sailing Centre in Spring 2023.

Saved: Fernhurst Furnace, West Sussex (Scheduled Monument)

Fernhurst Furnace is one of the most complete charcoal fired blast furnaces surviving from the Wealden iron industry. The iron industry flourished here in the 17th and 18th centuries using local ore, charcoal and water power.  

The site was at risk due to danger of collapse. A comprehensive package of repairs commenced in 2021 and were completed thanks to funding provided by Historic England, Natural England, Fernhurst Furnace Preservation Group, Wealden Iron Research Group and a charitable trust. The site is on a public bridleway so it can be seen by walkers and historians alike.

Saved: Stone Court House, Maidstone (Grade II*)

Stone Court House is a grand Georgian townhouse. It was formerly Lady Sackville of Knole House’s private residence before being The Crown Judge’s lodgings.

Historic England worked closely with the owners to develop a repair plan using traditional techniques and materials. During the restoration, a Tudor fireplace set into a medieval stone wall was discovered behind plaster.

The owners have thrown all their passion and love into saving this amazing historic building which is now a private home and successful hotel.

Highlights from sites added to the Register

In the South East, 11 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.

At Risk: The Old Mint House, East Sussex (Grade II*)

The 16th-century Mint House stands opposite Pevensey Castle. It is thought that the building contains medieval timbers taken from the Castle.

The building has high quality surviving timberwork, wall paintings, and carved panelling. However, water penetration is causing wet rot and deterioration of the timber frame. Further investigations and a comprehensive programme of repairs are now urgently necessary.

The Friends of the Mint House are working to fundraise for the much-needed repairs and find a future use which will support the local community.

At Risk: The Guildhall, Newport, Isle of Wight (Grade II*)

The Guildhall was built in 1814-16 to designs by John Nash to house the borough’s civic and judicial functions, and a market. It has been added to the Heritage at Risk Register due to the poor condition of the roofs, render, stonework and drains. 

Isle of Wight Council is working with partners and through the High Street Heritage Action Zone to develop plans for the building's refurbishment and options for its future use. The Council undertook £20,000 of emergency roof repairs last year and are monitoring the condition of building closely. 

At Risk: Langney Priory, East Sussex (Grade II*)

Originally a priory, the oldest portion of this medieval complex was built before 1121. Originally in an isolated area on the Pevensey Marshes, Langney Priory is now surrounded by a modern development.

Previously used as a private dwelling, the main buildings now need urgent repair.

Historic England is working closely with the current owners on solutions to save this building, considered one of the oldest buildings in Eastbourne. The first step will be putting up a structure to keep the building dry so work on the roof and structure can commence.

Heritage at Risk 2022 in brief

The Heritage at Risk Register 2022 reveals that in the South East of England:   

  • 154 Buildings or Structures (Grade I and II* listed buildings and structural scheduled monuments) 
  • 78 places of worship 
  • 139 Archaeology entries (non-structural scheduled monuments) 
  • 25 parks and gardens
  • 3 protected wreck sites
  • and 65 conservation areas   

are at risk of neglect, decay or inappropriate change.   

In total, there are 464 entries across the South East on the 2022 Heritage at Risk Register.