About Me

Heritage Lincolnshire is running an innovative approach to managing heritage at risk by training and supporting a network of volunteer 'heritage stewards' to complete surveys on Lincolnshire's heritage assets including historic buildings, places of worship, parks and gardens, conservation areas and archaeological sites. Project Officers Michael Knapton and Natalie Hamilton, together with some of our keen Heritage Stewards, will be writing a weekly blog on the Heritage at Risk project which will provide updates on the latest news and goings on, as well as offering an insight in to the day to day running of the project and the experiences of our Heritage Stewards.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Recollections of the LHAR Project

As the Lincolnshire Heritage at Risk surveys draw to a close at the end of this month I find myself looking back over my time as a volunteer Heritage Steward. The experiences have been many and varied but rarely negative.
I recall feeing rather uncertain about completing my first survey in 2010 but any anxiety quickly disappeared when the owner of the property provided an unexpected conducted tour of his home.
About half way through the project the volunteers were asked to complete all 500+ Places of Worship surveys in the county. Surveying churches of various denominations introduced me to a completely different aspect of heritage work. Appreciating the complexity of both the architecture and the particular problems surrounding the funding (and therefore, survival) of these buildings were truly formative experiences for me. Around the same time, Heritage Lincolnshire ran a two day course, ”The Medieval Church – Heaven on Earth” , which introduced the development of churches  over hundreds of years; these changes dictated largely by ecclesiastical directions and the architectural  trends of the times. A different course (but again, of a high quality) was one that considered the Lost Villages of Lincolnshire. Part of the course involved an appreciation of the Lutterel Psalter, a local illuminated manuscript, compiled in the 14th Century. A short film, inspired by the Psalter and produced by WAGscreen can be viewed by following this link:     
An illustration from the Lutterel Psalter

Memorable for me also have been the regular events, organised by the Lincs HAR team and intended as gestures of thanks for  Volunteers’ contribution to the project. Amongst these events have been conducted tour s of Doddington Hall, Belton House and Gunby Hall, each of which have been followed by refreshments.  The next scheduled event is a tour of Gainsborough Old Hall in November.
My time as a Volunteer Steward have inevitably included some negative experiences, most notably the prevalence of metal thefts from a variety of heritage sites,locally and nationally. Not wishing to dwell upon these negatives, I had some guarded optimism that the situation might be improving a little (due to less press coverage of the subject and recent  legislation, introduced in an attempt  to regulate the scrap metal trade). This optimism was dashed a couple of weeks ago when I read of a C16 sundial having been sawn from a church in W,Sussex by metal thieves. More serious than this however, was the recent death of a young man in London, killed by a 50kg piece of masonry falling from a poorly maintained Victorian building. The inquest report referred to the deteriorated state of the decorative stonework at the top of the building, adding that its wall ties were either in a poor state or absent altogether. Whether or not the building was subject to the attention of local Heritage organisations or councils was not made clear. What this type of report highlights however is that the monitoring and reporting of an old building’s condition and its safety has far reaching and crucial implications, quite apart from its aesthetic qualities.
During my last survey I once again experienced some trepidation when approaching the property (this time, a modest country estate in the South of the county). With an uncanny similarity to my first survey in 2010, the owner of the house was as helpful as she could possibly have been. I was given virtually free access to the estate, not before having an enjoyable half hour’s discussion with her on a range of topics! It is this type of encounter that I will miss the most about my time as a volunteer. The Heritage assets (buildings, parks,etc) have obviously been the focus of the work but the individuals  who I have met, with their welcoming and trusting attitudes, will be what stays in the memory for a long time to come.
St.Edith’s, Coates-by-Stow, one of my favourite heritage sites

Colin, Heritage Steward