New list shows historic buildings at special risk

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The Independent Online
SOME of Britain's finest historic buildings, including parts of Castle Howard, the setting for the television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, could be lost to the nation unless cash is found for urgent restoration.

According to an English Heritage report published yesterday, 1,500 Grade I and II buildings may crumble beyond repair if action is not taken, with one-quarter being described as in "immediate danger".

The warning was sounded by English Heritage following the publication of the first national register of the country's most beautiful or historically significant buildings and promises of pounds 5m in grants to help save them.

Among the entries are Wellington Arch, at Hyde Park Corner, through which the body of Diana, Princess of Wales, was carried en route to her funeral; Saltwood Castle, in Kent, home of the maverick Tory MP Alan Clark; the impressive conservatories of Wentworth Castle in south Yorkshire, and 7 Ditherington Flax Mill, the first iron-framed building in the world and the forerunner to the skyscraper. Castle Howard, in north Yorkshire, where the acclaimed television version of Evelyn Waugh's novel was filmed in 1981, is in need of up to pounds 2m of repairs to its mausoleum, gates, railings, walls, a 1778 Medici vase and pedestal, and a collapsing balustrade.

The Grade I building, designed by Vanburgh and Hawksmoor, was repaired with a grant in the 1980s, but more work needs to be done. "The estate is owned by the Hon Simon Howard and he estimates repair work on the mausoleum will cost pounds 1-pounds 2m," said Peter De Lange, spokesman for English Heritage.

Unveiling the register, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, chairman of English Heritage, said: "Historic buildings are a most significant part of our cultural heritage. They are an irreplaceable element of the collective memory of local communities, contributing to the public's sense of place and identity.

"Now we will be able to target resources on those buildings in greatest need. Today we publish details for the first time, backed by a pounds 5m package of grants. Doing nothing is no longer an option."

English Heritage intends the register to be used to help local authorities identify vulnerable buildings and to prompt owners to maintain them with the aid of a guide.

Other buildings identified as in need of help include: Astley Castle, a moated medieval manor house in Warwickshire; Dalton Pumping Station; a high Victorian edifice near Durham; Paston Barn in Norfolk, one of the finest barns in the country; and Pleasely Colliery, a former coal mine in Derbyshire.

English Heritage, which said the register implied no criticism of owners, also included in the regional list Rufus Castle, in Portland, Dorset; the former Assize Court in Bodmin, Cornwall; and the disused Exe Vale Hospital at Exminster, Devon.

On 3 June, English Heritage will publish a list of monuments at risk. Sir Jocelyn said: "Together with the Buildings at Risk Register, these two documents will, for the first time, provide an overall assessment of the most important elements of our historic environment.

"How safe is our heritage? Finally we shall be able to answer and be equipped with the knowledge to make it safer."