Category Archive 'English Heritage'

12 Jun 2009

Preservationism Killing 650 Year Old Bell Ringing Tradition

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Malvern Priory

The heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone.

Reginald Heber.

Preservationism in Britain, as practiced by the official quango, English Heritage, in the case of Malvern Priory is determined to block the repair or replacement of ill-designed wooden Victorian bell frames, invisible to public and now warped, at the price of condemning the exercise of the far more ancient English tradition of change ringing to desuetude.

Here is the problem with enlightened regulations generally: those in charge of applying them are commonly too ill-informed and unwise to understand what is important and what isn’t. I remember my former New England town debating a proposal to surrender similar sweeping authority to a local historic district, whose officers could tell us what color we could paint our house and whether we could repair our porch. But the authorities in charge would have been the same clueless housewives who arranged to have our Main Street’s ancient slate sidewalk pulled up and replaced with synthetic, and who thought it a good idea to install halogen lights on the steeple of our Congregational meeting house.


The Telegraph:

The bells of Malvern Priory could fall silent for the first time in more than 650 years because English Heritage has refused to allow bellringers to replace ageing parts.

The historic bells, which include one that dates from 1350, desperately need new frames to be installed high inside the tower.

However, English Heritage objected because it believed the A-frames from 1887 needed to be preserved.

There were no objections to updating the frame from the parish, the general public, the Victorian Society, or the Council for the Care of Churches.

However, English Heritage has stood its ground and took the case to an expensive and special consistory court hearing where the chancellor of the diocese heard the evidence and ruled the frames must stay.

Without the necessary replacement frames, the bell ringers say it is now just a matter of time before the bells become too difficult to ring.

The tower band is getting older and locals are concerned at the prospect of “The Exercise” not being practised in the Worcestershire spring town if new ringers can’t be trained there.

Campanologists across the country now fear the ruling might prevent other parishes taking on the might of English Heritage, and that other historic towers could fall silent.

The Victorian A-frames are now accepted to be a bad design and they were not in use for long.

Birmingham Post


09 Feb 2007

Alternative Heirs to British Throne

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Franz, Duke of Bavaria will be surprised.

The British Government historical advisory agency recently made a public appeal seeking to identify living descendants of Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson, or Edgar the Aetheling, who had William of Normandy not won the Battle of Hastings in 1066 might, instead of Elizabeth II, be occupying the English throne.

The Telegraph reports:

A retired engineer from Newcastle and a financial director from Berkshire emerge victorious today in a worldwide hunt to find alternative heirs to the English throne.

They were among 500 people who responded to an English Heritage appeal to identify those who might have been crowned King or Queen had William the Conqueror not defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings.

Claimants had to prove that they were linked to Edward the Confessor, whose death in 1066 led to a conflict over the rightful heir to the throne; Edgar the Aetheling, who was chosen as monarch but never crowned; or King Harold who was killed by the arrow in his eye.

They also had to provide the name of their most likely “gateway ancestor” — St Margaret of Scotland being the key player because as a direct descendant of Alfred the Great, she was related to both Edward the Confessor and Edgar the Aetheling. An advertisement placed in newspapers across the world asking people if they could trace their family tree back to 1066 prompted responses from America, Canada, France, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and Britain.

Albert Turnbull, from Newcastle, provided some of the strongest documentary evidence supporting his lineage back to St Margaret, King Alfred and William the Conqueror.

The 70-year-old retired engineer, who started tracing his family tree 35 years ago, said it was by chance that he discovered he was 55 generations descended from King Cerdic — the first King of Wessex — who invaded Britain around 500AD.

“It was a complete fluke,” he said. “I was in the castle library and I was looking at findings of an old history society. In the index I was looking for Turnbull and saw Threlkeld. I saw the family tree and realised it was a famous line. It was pure luck. My father’s grandmother was called Threlkeld. When I traced that branch back it came from Cumbria and married into the barons of Westmorland. They married into the Royal Family. I’m descended from the 10th Baron.”

Asked what the Prince of Wales might think of his claim to the throne, Mr Turnbull replied: “He’s my 23rd cousin. He seems to have a sense of humour. I think he would take it in good fun. But there would have to be quite a lot wiped out until it came to me.”

Mark Golledge, from Berkshire, had access to the “Stemmata Chicheleana” historical documents, which were published in 1765 and record all the descendants of Archbishop Henry Chichele, the founder of All Souls College, Oxford.

With the Archbishop as one of his ancestors, Mr Golledge is not only entitled to Fellowship of the College, but can accurately trace his family back from Chichele to Alfred the Great.

Mr Golledge said: “My family and I are very proud of our ancestry and very fortunate to have such a unique reference to illustrate our heritage.”

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