A picture of the front of the Devon and Exeter Institute on the Cathedral Close in Exeter. The building is newly repaired.
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The Devon and Exeter Institute following structural repairs in 2017. © Historic England (James O. Davies)
The Devon and Exeter Institute following structural repairs in 2017. © Historic England (James O. Davies)

Twenty Years of Heritage at Risk in the South West

Since the Register began in 1998, the South West Heritage at Risk team has worked tirelessly with a wide range of partners to secure the region's most vulnerable historic places.  

Twenty years on, we are delighted that over two thirds (68%) of buildings or structures that were on the Heritage at Risk Register in 1998 have been saved.

Here are our Top Ten success stories.

1. Landewednack Windmill, The Lizard, Cornwall

This late-17th-century tower mill is a much-loved local landmark with a rich history - it was a highwayman’s den in the 18th century and a Home Guard observation platform during the Second World War (World War II, WW2).

Its successful repair, led by owners Cornwall Wildlife Trust, involved an innovative design solution. The mill is now a public viewing platform, overlooking the Lizard and adjacent nature reserve. It was saved and removed from the register in 2016.

The Old Windmill, Landewednack, The Lizard, Cornwall, following conservation
The Old Windmill, Landewednack, The Lizard, Cornwall. Repaired and sensitively reused as a viewing platform at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve. © Historic England DP181662

2. The Walronds, Cullompton, Devon

On the Heritage at Risk Register between 2005 and 2013, an exemplary repair project led by the dedicated volunteers of the Cullompton Walronds Preservation Trust and supported by highly skilled heritage craftspeople secured the future of this Grade I listed early 17th-century town house.

Grade I listed The Walronds, Cullompton, Devon which has been fully restored and removed from the Heritage At Risk Register in 2014.
Grade I listed The Walronds, Cullompton, Devon which has been fully restored and removed from the Heritage At Risk Register in 2014. © Collumpton Walrond Preservation Trust

3. Devon and Exeter Institution, Cathedral Close, Exeter

In the winter of 2009 following heavy snowfall, cracks developed in the plasterwork of the elegant domes of this Grade II* listed building. Investigations revealed major structural failure and an eight-year programme of complex repairs followed, funded by Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and others. Many people enjoyed seeing conservation in action through popular weekly scaffold tours. The Institution was removed from the register in 2017.

Devon and Exeter Institution Library
Devon and Exeter Institution Library following repairs in 2017. © Historic England

4. St Paul’s Church, Portland Square, Bristol

This elegant Grade I listed Georgian church was once redundant. It was repaired with funding from Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund and today is in use a circus school and stunning performance space.

St Paul, Portland Square, Bristol
St Paul, Portland Square, Bristol. Now a thriving circus school. © Joe D CC via Wikimedia Commons

5. Brook Hall, Wiltshire

The 15th-century lodging wing of Brook Hall was repaired after 20 years on the register, with the new owners planning to convert to holiday lets.

Brook Hall, Wiltshire
The 15th-century Lodging Wing of Brook Hall, Wiltshire, following repair. © Historic England

6. Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol

A Victorian gem in the heart of the city which, following years of careful conservation with support from many funders, is now a popular place to visit and contemplate heritage and nature.

Arnos Vale Cemetery, Arnos Vale, Bristol
Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol © Historic England Archive

7. 66 Westgate, Gloucester

66 Westgate is one of the few intact timber framed dwellings left in Gloucester. The ground floor of this 15th-century merchant’s house in the medieval core of the city was a teashop for most of the 20th century, but the upper floors were disused, and by the late 2000s, the whole building fell into decline. Repaired with funding from public and private sources, 66 Westgate was saved and removed from the Heritage at Risk Register in 2009. It is now a thriving tea and coffee house.

66 Westgate, Gloucester was saved and removed from the Buildings at Risk Register in 2009.
66 Westgate, Gloucester was saved and removed from the Buildings at Risk Register in 2009. © Philafrenzy CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

8. St Giles, Wimborne St Giles, Dorset

A family-owned country house which was vacant uninhabitable, and on the brink of total loss. Its painstaking restoration has been described as a ‘triumph over tragedy.’ In 2015, St Giles' owners, Nicholas and Dinah Ashley-Cooper, 12th Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury, won a Heritage Angel Award for rescuing St Giles House and Park.

St Giles House covered with scaffolding
St Giles House and Park, Wimborne St Giles - Best Rescue of Any Other Type of Historic Building or Site © Justin Barton

9. Easton Grey, Wiltshire

The archaeological remains of a small Roman town on the banks of the River Avon were rescued from damage by off-road vehicles in 2013

Easton Grey, Wiltshire. The archaeological remains of a small Roman town on the banks of the River Avon were rescued from damage by off-road vehicles in 2013.
Easton Grey, Wiltshire. The archaeological remains of a small Roman town on the banks of the River Avon were rescued from damage by off-road vehicles in 2013. © Historic England

10. Castle Neroche, Somerset

The magnificent earthwork ramparts of an Iron Age hillfort and Norman Castle in the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is being removed from the Heritage at Risk Register this year. Thanks to the efforts of local volunteers, it is no longer threatened by invasive bracken and scrub growth.

Volunteers clearing scrub and bracken at Castle Neroche, a hillfort in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset.
Volunteers clearing scrub and bracken from Castle Neroche in the Blackdown Hills, Somerset. © Historic England
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