Monumentum, Spring 2011
On 7 October 2010, we visited Shobdon Church in Herefordshire. It was built from 1752 in the Gothick revival style, and stands almost intact amidst fine trees, relics of the parkland once surrounding the long-gone mansion of its patrons, the Bateman family. Times and fortunes have changed at Shobdon. We were at the 2010 Watch-listed site in support of its campaign to halt structural failure, and stitch its walls and trusses back together before it collapses. Such things aren’t cheap and typically beyond the means of small rural communities. So, we came to present a challenge to the parishioners with a generous gift of £50,000 from the Paul Mellon Estate: for every pound we raised together, a pound from this gift would be released. Three months have passed since then.
Page 3 explains the progress of the challenge, which, like the appeal for Stowe’s Music Room last Summer, met once again with a wonderful response from WMF supporters. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you warmly. Another Watch site is approaching the final stages of a WMF Robert W. Wilson challenge: Stowe. We have raised all but £410,000 of the £9 million required to keep the weather out, restore a circuit of the historic interiors and open Stowe to the public in Easter 2012. To see a year’s progress on film, and the thoughts of Kevin McCloud and David Starkey on Stowe, please go to www.wmf.org.uk/resources/films. For all this work, there remains an immense challenge in Britain. When English Heritage surveyed Grade I and Grade II* buildings in 2010, it found that 3.1% were at risk- 968 of our best buildings.
A walk through any British city reveals scores of fine buildings in a state of decay, and during a recession compounded by reduced state funding, things will only worsen. So we must act to help owners to achieve the means they need to deliver a secure and useful future for our historic places. The 2012 Watch is in preparation. Nominations are due in March and selected by a jury over the Summer. Then, the successful sites will be launched in October. If you have learned of any historic sites in need, led by a public body or trust with visionary plan of action, do please let us know. We are looking forward to helping to shape the next chapter of our shared history