Church of England Heritage Record Launched

Church of England Heritage Record Launched

An online database of the Church of England’s 16,000 church buildings has been launched by ChurchCare and Historic England.

Looking up through the chair stall to the East Window in Bath Abbey. Click on images to enlarge.

Looking up through the chair stall to the East Window in Bath Abbey. Click on images to enlarge.

According to the Church of England, The new Church Heritage Record contains over 16,000 entries on church buildings in England, covering a wide variety of topics from architectural history and archaeology, to worship and the surrounding natural environment.

Churchcare have added that the Record is continuously updated and developed. If you think you would like to help out, or you know of an interesting project happening in your area, contact Julie Patenaude at julie.patenaude@churchofengland.org.

For more information and to search the database, see the website https://facultyonline.churchofengland.org/churches

Caring for the past.

Caring for the past.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

April the First marks the official arrival of Historic England, the public body that will look after and champion England’s historic environment.

Already the new body has announced the results of new research which shows English people recognise and protect the nationally significant sites in their area. A growing number of people are visiting the National Heritage List for England to find out about them.

Historic England has also revealed that almost everyone in England now lives within a mile of a designated heritage asset – a building, monument, archaeological site, battlefield, park or garden that is listed for protection.

Designation is the act of officially identifying the most important parts of our heritage so they can receive special protection and be added to the National Heritage List for England. We celebrate their significance – and make sure that our history can be enjoyed by present and future generations.

A poll of more than 5,000 adults has revealed that English people care deeply for their heritage. Just under two fifths (38%) have taken action to protect a local building or place from damaging change, or from becoming derelict or disused. The results suggest a higher-than-expected willingness among the public to protect heritage around them.

The Laura Place fountain looking down Great Pulteney Street to the Holburne Museum.

The Laura Place fountain looking down Great Pulteney Street to the Holburne Museum.

Awareness is also high from a poll of more than 1,750 people, with almost half (46%) of English people saying they know of a historically significant building or place within a mile of where they live, and almost two thirds (64%) saying they are interested in their local heritage.

Sir Laurie Magnus, Historic England Chairman, said: “These results are fascinating. They show that people care deeply about our heritage and the importance of protecting our spectacular castles, country houses, monuments, memorials and ancient archaeological sites. They are also concerned about the fate of their local heritage and increasingly recognise the importance of places of worship, parks and gardens, historic industrial sites and maritime heritage.”

Oh you ‘beautiful’ gulls.

Oh you ‘beautiful’ gulls.

seagullsIt took a tourist visitor to Bath to point out to me that there is no such thing as ‘a seagull’ while l was performing my duties as a Mayor’s Honorary Guide, and apologising to my little group of sight-seers for the roof-top squawking and chatter from our finely feathered friends.

‘Seagull’ is the common and informal name that has been given to these birds but they are all simply gulls with different names for different species.

To quote the British Trust for Ornithology – from their www.bto.org web-site:

‘Gulls are perhaps the most familiar of seabirds, though many species are not closely tied to the sea or the shore. As a group they are opportunists, able to exploit new food sources readily. This has led, in Britain, to rapidly expanding populations of urban gulls, which are becoming an increasing problem.

They vary in size from the diminutive Little Gull to the piratical Great Blackback, but in almost all species, the underparts are white and the upper parts grey or black (a few species are all white or all dark).’

Having cleared that little matter up – sort of ‘knowing your enemy’ as it were – let’s get onto understanding your ‘enemy’ and the thorny subject of their generally unwelcome residency on the rooftops of Georgian Bath.seagulls

From their point of view it’s a much cosier nesting place than a wind-swept, sea-sprayed cliff edge. The traditional nesting grounds where they have to battle with thousands of others of their species for the best little niche to raise a brood.

Bath offers sheltered and safe elevated spaces, with warmth from the buildings below and an environment where your egg won’t roll far if it escapes the nest. The same of course goes for the fledging – when it hatches.

It’s also much closer to a food source. Gulls will eat just about anything, from fish or small rodents to chips, pizza and crisps. A salt-secreting gland enables them to drink either fresh or salt water. They also like company. Colonies are large, densely packed and noisy. Just the right conditions to feel at home and contribute two to three speckled eggs a pair.

The news that the Government is allocating £250,000 for research to be undertaken in how to deal with this ‘plague’ of chattering ‘pests’ is being welcomed by the great and the good of our World Heritage city.

We are not though the only in-land town to have a gulls issue and even in places that are beside the sea – like Torbay and pretty Dartmouth just around the coastal corner – you daren’t hold a vinegar-covered and deep-fried chip too far in the air – to cool it on its way to your mouth – because this canny birds can snatch-in-one with the same skills as a bird of prey honing in on a vole from thousands of feet above its target.

seagullsNesting season is approaching and Bath steels itself for another ‘nightmare’ summer. Unlike our other two-legged guests – the tourist –  gulls don’t spend money and they don’t disappear once they have!

I am not going to pretend there isn’t an issue here but l do feel £250,000 might be better spent dealing with the whole issue of rubbish collection.

It’s an old argument l know but it is our fault the gulls are here. They feed from our rubbish. They have grown in numbers as places like Bath have grown. The more fast-food outlets and food scraps scattered across our streets the more for these birds to source.

The traditional rubbish bin.

The traditional rubbish bin.

There is too much of this around Bath. The bags get kicked or pecked to pieces.

There is too much of this around Bath. The bags get kicked or pecked to pieces.

Remember when we just had galvanised bins with lids outside our houses? When Bath wasn’t full of student accommodation and the pavements were not covered with a scattering of Tesco or Sainsbury plastic bags tossed out for the bin-men last thing at night?

We need a proper system of storage and collection that must apply to everyone in the city – student or family household.

I am not meaning to single out our younger population for a verbal beating but its fair to say that some do have a different attitude to where they live during their university years.

It’s not their house or their city. They are young and having a good time.gulls

Other householders – family ones and people of more mature years – can be just as bad with disposing of refuse as a last-minute thing.

Isn’t it somebody else job to clear it all up anyway . We just ‘chuck it out’ don’t we? It doesn’t matter what we put it in.

Let’s see B&NES research containers to suite this greener age of recycling and rubbish disposal. I chatted to a fellow coffee drinker in the city today who told me he remembered his grandfather used to put a bit of bleach in the rubbish bag because the birds didn’t like that and it kept them away.

Not such a bad idea maybe – though l doubt if its environmentally sound – and could harm one of the refuse collectors. However, there may be a safe substance that could be sold in powder or spray form that would keep the birds – and four-legged scavengers – away?

All part of the research that is necessary. I don’t want to see people out shooting gulls or trying to hit or kick them. We are supposedly civilised and intelligent people who must find a way of encouraging these resourceful creatures to try their luck elsewhere.

I must say l secretly admire them for their beautiful looks, their ability to spread almost ‘angelic’ wings and fly in circles for hours on thermals currents – and – getting down to business – the way they manage to feed their noisy and demanding families – from under our mucky feet.

Can we have a sensible debate. It’s not about politics or scoring points – it’s about Bath maybe leading the way in a new approach to refuse disposal and recycling and a new community spirit amongst residents of all ages to care about what the city – in which they live – looks like.

Gainsborough to get July opening.

Gainsborough to get July opening.

The Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel

The Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel

Bath’s newest 5-star hotel – the Gainsborough Bath Spa – is finally due to open this July.

That’s according to Martin Clubbe – the man who has already been appointed General Manager to run it.

The Virtual Museum noticed the hotel now has an impressive web-site up and running.

You can check it out on www.thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk

Behind this Grade 11 listed Georgian facade – in a building originally constructed as a hospital for Bath poor – will be 99 luxury guest rooms and suites and the only natural thermal spa within a hotel in the United Kingdom.

The images on the website – l was not allowed to use any of them at this time – really do give you an idea of just how opulent the interior will be.

The Gainsborough's proposed Spa Village Pool

The Gainsborough’s proposed Spa Village Pool

An artist’s impression of the spa facilities is though already in the public realm. The website says the hotel’s Bath House will allow guests to ‘take the waters in luxury’ – ‘tapping into the original Roman Bath springs.’

The luxury hotel joins what is now known as the ‘Spa Quarter’ of Bath and sees an historical building saved for the future.

It’s owned by YTL – a Malaysian-based company that specialises in luxury spa resorts and which now manages the Bath Therma Spa and owns Wessex Water.

The new display featuring coins from the Beau Street Hoard.

The new display featuring coins from the Beau Street Hoard.

The new Gainsborough is also the site of the discovery of the Beau Street Hoard – a wealth of coinage – covering the whole four hundred years of Roman occupation – found deliberately hidden under the floor of a Roman villa discovered by archaeologists checking out an area scheduled for the hotel’s extension.

Some of the coins are now on display at the Roman Baths nearby.

Window on the war.

Window on the war.

A very special anniversary coming up for Bath Abbey later this month. Friday (13th March) marks 60 years since the restoration and rededication of the East Window which was blown out during the Bath Blitz in 1942.

 The east end of Bath Abbey

The east end of Bath Abbey

It was officially unveiled at a special dedication service on Sunday the 13th of March 1955.

Looking up through the chair stall to the East Window. Click on images to enlarge.

Looking up through the chair stall to the East Window. Click on images to enlarge.

Only last year, Bath Abbey launched its Creating Voices audio archive which comprises an audio guide dedicated to the restoration of the East Window.

This includes a clip of Eric Naylor, a member of the Abbey’s congregation at the time, who gives a first-hand account of the rededication ceremony as well as an interview from Clare Cook, the partner of Ron Kirk, who together with his father, Harry Kirk from Clayton and Bell.

Clare talks about what it was like for Ron and Harry to be responsible for the mammoth task of restoring the Abbey’s East Window to its original glory. You can access this via http://www.bathabbey.org/history/creating-voices-oral-history-project/east-window

Following the 1942 blitz, the Abbey could not be used for regular services for some time. Bits of glass were dropping from the broken windows and the wind-swept through them.

It wasn’t until the war ended in 1945 that the Abbey began to think about restoring the window as well as other aspects of the building.

The East Window in all its colourful glory.

The East Window in all its colourful glory.

The glass from the window was so badly damaged that practically every glass maker in England said that it couldn’t be restored. Until the glass-making firm, Clayton and Bell, took up the challenge – sending father-and-son team of “glaziers”, Harry and Ron Kirk.

It wasn’t until April 1952 that the first stained glass lancet window was ready to go back into the window frame.

By 16 April 1953, the first tier of the window was completed and over 17 months later, at the end of October 1954, the bottom tier was in place.

Sixty per cent of the original glass, collected by members of the Abbey congregation, was used in the restored window. An amazing fact – considering that the East Window is made up of 864 square feet (or 80 square metres) of stained glass!

Roman treasures roadshow

Roman treasures roadshow

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Beau Street Hoard Roadshow team is showing off its Roman treasures in Midsomer Norton as the roadshow continues its travels around the region.

Some of the cleaned coins.

Some of the cleaned coins.

On Saturday 7th March, from 11am to 3pm, visitors can discover the mysteries and majesties behind the Beau Street Hoard at the Midsomer Norton Town Hall. Illustrated talks will take place at 11.30am and 2pm. Entry is free.

Visitors will be able to see some of the fabulous Roman coins found during an archaeological excavation in 2007, strike their own Roman coin to take home, learn all about the find and the mystery that shrouds it, take part in all- ages activities, and watch illustrated talks.

The Roadshow project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is one way the Council-run Roman Baths is working to bring these marvellous coins out to communities in Bath, North East Somerset and beyond.

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “With some coins still in amazing condition, the hoard has given us a better understanding of the lives and politics of Britain 2,000 years ago. The images on the coins are fascinating; they were the easiest way the Roman Emperor had of communicating with his citizens, and therefore represent thousands of mini state broadcasts.”

The Beau Street Hoard was excavated by archaeologists on the site of the Gainsborough Hotel development in Beau Street, Bath, in 2007. The 17,577 Roman coins span the period from 32BC – 275AD and were found in eight separate money bags, which were fused together. No one knows how they got there, why they were put there, or why no-one ever returned for them; the mystery behind them has led to many interesting theories, but no actual fact.

In March 2014, Bath & North East Somerset Council was awarded a grant of £372,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to purchase the hoard, and, from February 2015, it will be on permanent public display in a new interactive exhibit within the Aquae Sulis Gallery at The Roman Baths.

Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/BeauStHoard or give us a Follow @BeauStHoard. Alternatively, take a look at the http://www.romanbaths.co.uk events section.

Tales of the riverbank.

Tales of the riverbank.

Trees on both sides of the river are going.

Trees on both sides of the river are going.

The look of the river bank alongside Churchill Bridge – in the heart of Bath city centre – is rapidly changing.

Up is going more safety railings to try to prevent people falling into the water and down are coming lines of mature trees – some of which are more than 80 feet tall.

The huge crane that is lifting down the cut branches of these giant poplars.

The huge crane that is lifting down the cut branches of these giant poplars.

Both developments have to be welcomed. One will play a small but significant role in preventing more drowning tragedies, while the other – drastic though it is – will be a means to an end.

The trees have to come down so work can get underway on remodelling the river bank as part of a multi-million pound flood prevention scheme – shared by B&NES and the Environment Agency – that should provide additional protection for nearby commercial and residential property and allow a massive redevelopment of a river bank site in need of regeneration.

The proposed tree-lined terraces

The proposed tree-lined terraces

The re-shaping of the bank to allow for greater capacity during periods when the river is engorged with flood water and also allow planners to re-connect the people of Bath with their river.

The information boards by Churchill Bridge

The information boards by Churchill Bridge

There is an assortment of visual and written information that has sprung up on notice boards by Churchill Bridge and elsewhere explaining what is happening and why.

You can see how proposed  tree-lined riverside terraces will provide a new amenity and route for walkers and cyclists.

More visual information on the riverbank scheme

More visual information on the riverbank scheme

Its hoped wildlife will benefit from the plantings which should provide a corridor through the heart of Bath.

The new development is known as the Bath Quay Waterside Project.

There is going to be a great deal of disruption while building work gets underway but also the prospect of something new and exciting to come.

I watched in amazement this morning as a tree surgeon swung from his harness at least sixty to sixty-five feet above my head.

A tree surgeon at work above the North Quay

A tree surgeon at work above the North Quay

Above his was a swinging crane jib and a cable he was attaching to a giant branch of the poplar he was dismembering.

Once he has cut through – further down the branch – the whole section is then swung out and lowered to the ground.

I hate to see any tree come down but can appreciate the work would be impossible to do without clearing the site first.  Time will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

The work completed. IN time - new plantings will be made on a re-shaped riverbank.

The work completed. Eventually – new plantings will be made on a re-shaped riverbank.

A more recent picture showing the now bare riverbank area where the trees once stood. This whole bank will be re-shaped and eventually replanted.