Palin and Fry join history campaign

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The Independent Online

A coalition of heritage bodies has launched a campaign to argue that history matters, buoyed by a new poll showing that 80 per cent of the public agree it does.

David Starkey, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry and Bill Bryson are among those lending their name to the History Matters - Pass It On campaign launched at the Tower of London yesterday by bodies including the National Trust, the Historic Houses Association and English Heritage.

It is designed to demonstrate that there is popular support for the nation's heritage at a time when future investment in heritage is under threat.

The amount of lottery money being distributed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, for instance, is set to fall from £300m now to £200m within three years.

Yet 80 per cent of people polled said history mattered in today's society, 72 per cent thought too many old buildings were being demolished and nearly two-thirds believed the Government was not doing enough to protect the nation's history.

Nearly 70 per cent of those asked by the polling organisation Mori thought history was a cool subject - with 20 per cent regarding it as uncool.

The History Matters campaign hopes to build on this support by encouraging people to wear a special badge and vote on their favourite historic places.

Ivo Dawnay, of the National Trust, said they wanted to encourage greater public involvement in the heritage of England and Wales.

''The campaign seeks to build public consciousness of the social value of our history and heritage in all their forms and to find out more about why they matter to people.''