GUARDIANS OF ENGLANDS HERITAGE



Guardians of Englands Heritage and Heritage Sites in England are in the guise and administered by, a wealth of different types of organisation which can broadly be categorised as follows:

1. Local Authority supported Museums and Art Galleries

Many places under the care of local authorities have free entrance e.g. Sarehole Mill which gave JRR Tolkien such inspiration. Such sites benefit from expertise available to museums and enjoy local, governmental or European funding and as such the outlay is not governed solely by projected visitor spend.

2. Religious Bodies

The obvious here being churches and cathedrals which are free to enter usually with a request for voluntary donations, these buildings need considerable funds in order to preserve their fabrics.

There are some gems in the care of religious bodies that are not places of worship a good example being Harvington Hall which is well worth a visit. The Hall is in the ownership of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham (which carried out restoration after the Hall’s acquisition in 1923) and boasts the most priest holes (hiding places) than any building in England and with guided tours and a tea room it is well recommended for a visit.

3. Not for profit Heritage Organisations (taking on the form of trusts, charities, limited companies etc)

The National Trust is the biggest such organisation in England, with properties throughout the country both buildings and land and administer places of national importance. Charges are usually levied for entry although there are some sites allowing free admission. For free entry where a charge is made it is necessary to be a member of the Trust, other benefits for members includes magazines, year books, events etc.

The National Trust is in fact a Charity and completely independent of government and in April 2008, the organisation's website claimed 3.5 million members and 43,000 volunteers. The Trust relies on time given voluntarily at a local level in order to provide guides etc, funds are often raised at local level to supplement income and there is at any important site, a shop selling guides and other memorabilia.

The Black Country Museum Trust Limited is a 'not for profit' organisation which earns most of its running costs from admission income and sales to visitors, it receives no core funding from government.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum is an Educational Charity, completely independent of Government, and relies on the generosity of all its supporters to carry out its work, together with admission charges and commercial activities.

4. English Heritage is the Government's statutory adviser on the historic environment. Officially known as the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, English Heritage is an Executive Non-departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) (This wording is taken from the organisations own website, what it means is another matter!!!!!!!!!)

The public can become members and in 2006/07 there were 630,000 members. Benefits of membership are similar to those provided by the National Trust.

5. Commercial Organisations

Heritage sites are by and large not run for commercial profit in England, there are of course notable exceptions, such as Warwick Castle administered by Merlin Entertainments Group.

Probably, into this category, will come Stately Homes, which are open to the public and for events in order to cover the ongoing costs of maintaining the fabric of the buildings.