Natural England - Awards recognise England's Heritage Angels

Awards recognise England's Heritage Angels

6 August 2013

A former Durham lead mine, a tomb with a view, and a white horse cut into a Dorset hillside are three projects supported by Natural England that are in the running for this year’s prestigious Heritage Angel Awards.

Heritage angel awards feature image
Wheel pit completed at Lower Silt Mine © Kevin Doonan Architects

These heritage rescues are among 17 projects that have been chosen to go forward to the finals of the English Heritage Angel Awardsexternal link in London on Monday 21 October and English Heritage is asking members of the public to vote for their favourite shortlisted project.

We are delighted that three projects that have received support and funding from Natural England through our Historic Environment work have been selected for the final shortlist.

Mausoleum of Sir James Tillie, Pentille Castle

In the Best Craftsmanship Employed on a Heritage Rescue categoryexternal link, Ted Coryton is nominated for the restoration of the Mausoleum of Sir James Tillie at Pentillie Castle in Cornwall. The historically important mausoleum was identified as being at risk and in urgent need of rescue as part of a major project to restore the estate. Natural England agreed that the building was sufficiently important to merit support through an Environmental Stewardship Higher Level (HLS) agreement and, with additional funding from the Country Houses Foundation, work on the building began in summer 2012. Two trainees were involved in the repair process, one through the William Morris Craft Fellowship organised by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB); the other from the Prince's Foundation Building Crafts Apprenticeship scheme.

The highlight of the works was the discovery of a long-lost vault that contained the remains of Sir James, giving credence to the story of him being buried in his chair. A statue of Sir Jamesexternal link, which was removed for specialist restoration at Cliveden Conservation in Bath, was returned to Pentillie in April 2013 to mark the completion of the restoration work. The Mausoleum and the restored statute of Sir James are now the focus of public open days to Pentillie’s parkland and for visitors to the house.

Low Silt Mine, Bishop Auckland

Malcolm and James Nattrass are nominated for the Best Rescue of a Historic Industrial Building or Siteexternal link for the work on Low Slit Mine, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham. Low Slit Mine includes a well-preserved concentration of lead mining features. It has suffered from a series of long-term problems, such as damage from ivy and tree growth, leaching of the lime mortar resulting in the decay of standing structures and erosion of the ‘washing floor’ by the stream causing damage to associated archaeology. Other problems included the deterioration of the culvert structures, vandalism and erosion of the steel mine shaft cap. This project was funded by Natural England through an HLS agreement with the landowners.

Three specialist contractors carried out the work which included hard capping, core consolidation, repointing and dry stone walling. A particular challenge was the repair of a series of arched culverts over the stream. This included damming the stream and pumping the water past the culverts for a short period to work on areas normally under water. The 587ft deep mine shaft was re-capped with concrete. Derbyshire Caving Club explored the shaft, providing invaluable insight into the condition of the structure prior to the work being completed. Public involvement has been integral to the project and included developing heritage skills. The work was carried out between September 2009 and October 2012 and the site is now regularly visited by the public. A bench with interpretation panels has been installed so that visitors can understand more about the site and its history.

Osmington White Horse, Dorset

The Osmington White Horse Restoration Group is nominated in the Best Rescue of Any Other Type of Historic Building or Siteexternal link category. A famous local landmark and a Scheduled Monument, the Osmington White Horseexternal link was cut into the chalk hill side in 1808 as a tribute to King George III who regularly visited his seaside residence in nearby Weymouth. As a result of the ravages of over 200 years, the integrity of this monument had been steadily deteriorating. Its outline had become increasingly ill-defined due to severe encroachment by plants, ad hoc unauthorised adjustments over the years and, more recently, 160 tonnes of limestone scalpings mistakenly put on to the figure in 1989. The monument is located in the middle of an SSSI, which placed significant restrictions on the movement of materials. In May 2009 the Osmington Society set up a Community Restoration Project in conjunction with an existing working group. Following extensive research, funding was received from Natural England through an HLS agreement. One hundred and sixty tonnes of limestone scalpings were removed during 2010. In 2011, following further research, teams of volunteers began the task of cutting the newly marked outline into the hillside, and then carried out various corrective works. The Monument is now recorded on all OS records, and a maintenance regime has been drawn up. A viewing point will encourage visitors to learn about its fascinating history.

Jez Bretherton, Historic Environment Senior Specialist at Natural England, said: “We would like to offer our own congratulations to everyone shortlisted for this year’s Awards and it is great news that their hard work and enthusiasm has been recognised. We are especially delighted to see these three projects that were supported by Natural England among the finalists. Each project is a great example of how we work in partnership with land managers, support heritage skills businesses and involve local communities to achieve some exciting results.

“Thanks to some excellent joint working, these projects – along with many others that we have also supported - have helped safeguard some much-loved landmarks and contributed to a number of sites being removed from English Heritage's At Risk register.”

Vote for your favourite

English Heritage is inviting members of the public to vote for their favourite shortlisted projectexternal link and the one that receives the most votes will receive the English Heritage Followers' and Telegraph Readers' Award at a ceremony in London on 21 October 2013.

The Telegraph is media partner for the awards and the Awards are co-funded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.