Historic England adds 159 properties to at-risk list to prevent them being lost forever

Organisation has given £7.63 million in grants for repairs to properties on the Heritage at Risk Register over the past year

The Great White Horse Hotel in Ipswich, Suffolk, is one of the new additions to the Heritage at Risk Register for 2023. PA
Powered by automated translation

Historic England has added 159 buildings to its Heritage at Risk Register in a bid to save them from being lost forever.

The organisation adds buildings to its Heritage at Risk Register if they are deemed to be under threat from decay, neglect or inappropriate development, and in the past year, 203 sites have been rescued, including a hotel that inspired Charles Dickens’s first novel.

The Great White Horse Hotel in Ipswich, Suffolk – which inspired regular guest Dickens’s first novel The Pickwick Papers and has hosted British stars and notable historical figures over the years, including the Beatles, King George II and Admiral Lord Nelson – made the at-risk list, released on Thursday.

Historic England said there is active dry rot in the second floor space named after Dickens, alongside deteriorating windows, and gutters and drainpipes that are in poor condition.

Holmfirth Conservation Area in West Yorkshire, which featured in the popular TV comedy series Last of the Summer Wine, was named among the saved sites after vacancy rates fell and buildings were repaired and repurposed.

St Mary’s Church in Stoke-By-Nayland in Suffolk, which was frequently painted by landscape artist John Constable, has also been named among the sites on the Heritage at Risk Register.

The village church is set to undergo repairs in December after a fundraising campaign by the Church Council and a £135,000 repair grant from Historic England.

Meanwhile Holbeche House in the West Midlands, which was once owned by one of the men associated with the Gunpowder Plot, is also on the at-risk list.

The house was the last refuge of the conspirators after they fled London and saw ringleader Robert Catesby killed in a gunfight three days after the plotters failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Others involved in the conspiracy were also killed or arrested there.

Historic England said the house was used as a care home but currently sits empty and is becoming a “site of concern for the local community”.

UK World Heritage Sites – in pictures

The first Heritage at Risk Register was published 25 years ago, providing an annual snapshot of the health of England’s valued historic buildings and places.

Historic England said there are 48 fewer total entries on the list compared with 2022, and about 6,800 have been removed since the list began.

The saved sites include 19th-century designed Capernwray Hall Park and Garden in Lancashire; the Napoleonic era arms depot in Weedon, Northamptonshire; and Church of the Ascension in Greater Manchester, which was repaired following a fire in 2017.

“For a quarter of a century, the Heritage at Risk Register has helped to focus efforts to preserve cherished sites across the country,” Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said.

“It is heartening to see that so many sites have had their futures secured and have been taken off the Register over the past year thanks to the hard work of Historic England and local people.

“I look forward to the new additions to the Register receiving similar care and attention so that future generations can continue to enjoy and learn from our rich heritage for years to come.”

Historic England said it awarded £7.63 million ($9.4 million) in grants for repairs to 155 sites on the register during 2022 and 2023.

Updated: November 09, 2023, 12:01 AM