Interior of newly repaired Brook Hall, near Bath.
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Interior of Brook Hall, near Bath, following repairs in 2018. © Historic England
Interior of Brook Hall, near Bath, following repairs in 2018. © Historic England

Heritage at Risk: Saved in 2018

This year, 99 historic sites and places in the South West were removed from the Heritage at Risk Register. Here are just four of this year's success stories.

Llanthony Priory, Gloucester

Successfully repaired under the management of the Llanthony Secunda Priory Trust, Llanthony Priory can once again play a full part in the life of the city. The repairs were funded thanks to grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, Gloucestershire Environmental Trust and numerous other funders. The site is now open to the public and the buildings will be home to event spaces for meetings, conferences, and classes for Gloucester College and the local community.

Founded in 1136, the priory was once one of the largest Augustinian houses in England. It hosted eminent visitors including Henry VII, and owned farmland, quarries and manor houses across the region. The newly restored buildings, of timber frame, brick and stone date to the 15th century, and were extended in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Repairs nearing completion at Llanthony Priory, Gloucester.
Repairs nearing completion at Llanthony Priory, Gloucester, in summer 2018. © Historic England

Powderham Belvedere, Devon

The Belvedere at Powderham lies north west of Powderham Castle. It was built between 1771 and 1774 for the 2nd Viscount Courtenay and has stood as a local landmark for more than two centuries; and is still owned by his descendants.

A belvedere is a structure, or part of a building, designed to take advantage of a beautiful view, and this three-storey brick-built tower with Portland stone dressings stands overlooking the Exe estuary. Eighteenth-century visitors would come to watch ships on the water between Topsham and Exmouth, or occasionally enjoy the balls hosted here by the Viscount to entertain his 13 daughters.

Last used as an estate cottage, after the Second World War (World War II, WW2), the building was ravaged by fire and fell into disrepair. Historic England, Natural England and Teignbridge District Council have worked closely with the owners, Charlie and AJ Courtenay, the Earl and Countess of Devon, through major repairs and re-roofing. When repairs are complete visitors to Powderham Castle will again be able admire the Belvedere, and it will once more become a venue for events, the purpose for which it was built.

Powderham Belvedere
The Belvedere, Powderham Castle, Devon. Image taken prior to repairs. © Stephen Craven via Creative Commons.

Bolt Tail Fort, South Devon

The Iron Age cliff castle known as Bolt Tail is the only known monument of its type in South Devon. Sitting on a rocky promontory above Hope Cove, it has high sea cliffs on three sides, and the fourth is defended by a ditch and rampart.

The monument was added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2017, primarily as a result of significant scrub growth, visitor wear and livestock erosion on the southern edge of the fort.

National Trust Rangers and volunteers have worked extremely hard to address these issues and within a year have improved the condition of the site to the extent that it has now been removed from the register. Although the site is still vulnerable, a management programme, implemented through the support of volunteers, will continue to improve the condition of the site into the future.

View of a coastal Iron Age hillfort and beyond to the sea
Iron Age Cliff Fort, Bolt Tail, South Devon © Historic England

Cunaide Stone, Hayle, Cornwall

Though small and unremarkable to look at, the Cunaide Stone is incredibly important as it represents the earliest evidence of Christianity in Cornwall. It was discovered in 1843 in Carnsew, close to the Hayle estuary, within the area of a late prehistoric hillfort. The stone itself is thought to date to the 5th century AD, and it is one of very few of its type.

For many years it was set into an embankment alongside a 19th century slate slab, bearing a translation of its lettering: “Here in peace lately went to rest Cunaide. Here in this grave she lies. She lived 33 years.” It was placed on the Heritage at Risk Register as its condition has deteriorated.

Scheduled Monument Consent was granted in December 2017 and, thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the stone was relocated inside Hayle Heritage Centre, governed by Harvey’s Foundry Trust. The heritage centre staff and volunteers worked with specialist stone conservators to clean the stone and remove the lichen. Following this, archaeologist Tom Goskar carried out a 3D scan of the stone, to preserve and re-interpret the now faint inscription. This fascinating memorial will be on public display from Easter 2019 as part of a permanent exhibition.

Scanning the inscribed early Christian stone at Hayle Heritage Centre, Cornwall
Scanning the Cunaide stone at Hayle Heritage Centre, Cornwall, October 2018. © Daisy Culmer, Hayle Heritage Centre
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