A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 states parties which are elected by their General Assembly. The program catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund. The programme was founded with the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on November 16, 1972. Since then, 186 states party have ratified the convention.
As of 2011, 936 sites are listed: 725 cultural, 183 natural, and 28 mixed properties, in 153 States Party. Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites to date with 47 sites inscribed on the list. UNESCO references each World Heritage Site with an identification number; but new inscriptions often include previous sites now listed as part of larger descriptions. As a result, the identification numbers exceed 1200 even though there are fewer on the list.While each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located, UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
The United States initiated the idea of combining cultural conservation with nature conservation. A White House conference in 1965 called for a ‘World Heritage Trust’ to preserve “the world’s superb natural and scenic areas and historic sites for the present and the future of the entire world citizenry.” The International Union for Conservation of Nature developed similar proposals in 1968, and they were presented in 1972 to the United Nations conference on Human Environment in Stockholm. A single text was agreed on by all parties, and the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972.
Note: this list includes sites in the British overseas territories
- Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, Wales — 2000
- Blenheim Palace — 1987
- Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church — 1988
- Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd: Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech, Wales — 1986
- City of Bath — 1987
- Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape — 2006
- Derwent Valley Mills — 2001
- Durham Castle and Durham Cathedral — 1986
- Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Hadrian’s Wall — 1987
- Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland — 1986
- Gough and Inaccessible Island (Saint Helena) — 1995
- Heart of Neolithic Orkney, Scotland — 1999
- Henderson Island (Pitcairn Islands) — 1988
- Historic Town of St. George’s, Bermuda — 2000
- Ironbridge Gorge — 1986
- Jurassic Coast — 2001
- Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City — 2004
- Maritime Greenwich — 1997
- New Lanark, Scotland — 2001
- Old Town and New Town of Edinburgh, Scotland — 1995
- Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Near Wrexham, Wales — 2009
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew — 2003
- St Kilda, Scotland — 1986
- Saltaire — 2001
- Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites — 1986
- Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey — 1986
- Tower of London — 1988
- Westminster Abbey, Palace of Westminster, Westminster School and St. Margaret’s Church — 1987
Blaenavon is a town and World Heritage Site in south eastern Wales, lying at the source of the Afon Llwyd north of Pontypool, within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire. The town lies high on a hillside and has a population of 6,349 people. Blaenavon means “river’s source” in the Welsh language. Blaenavon grew around an ironworks opened in 1788, part of which is now a museum. The steel-making and coal mining industries followed, boosting the town’s population to over 20,000 at one time, but since the ironworks closed in 1900 and the coal mine in 1980, the population has declined, and now consists mostly of older citizens. Attractions in the town include the Big Pit National Coal Museum (an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage), Blaenavon Ironworks, the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, Blaenavon World Heritage Centre, Blaenavon Male Voice Choir and many historical walks through Blaenavon’s mountains.
The above mentioned Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway is only a tourist attraction. Blaenavon lost both of its passenger railway stations many years ago with Blaenavon High Level station closing as early as 1941 and the last train from Blaenavon (Low Level) to Newport via Pontypool Crane Street leaving in April 1962. The lower line was actually closed 18 months prior to the notorious Beeching Axe. It was later disclosed that a number of rail passenger services within Monmouthshire were withdrawn in the early 1960s, not because they were doing particularly badly in financial terms, but because of severe rail congestion in the Newport area due to the amount of traffic coming from the then newly opened Llanwern steelworks. Attempts have recently been made to turn the town’s image around by introducing it as Wales’s second “book town” (the first being Hay-on-Wye). However after over a year of attempts to attract visitors the project has not succeeded. This can be attributed to a combination of the town’s remote location and the established competition from Hay. There are many thriving community groups within the town, including Future Blaenavon, which has helped to create a community garden at the bottom of the town.
Blenheim Palace is a monumental country house situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, residence of the dukes of Marlborough. It is the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. The palace, one of England’s largest houses, was built between 1705 and circa 1724. UNESCO recognised the palace as a World Heritage Site in 1987. Its construction was originally intended to be a gift to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough from a grateful nation in return for military triumph against the French and Bavarians at the Battle of Blenheim. However, it soon became the subject of political infighting, which led to Marlborough’s exile, the fall from power of his duchess, and irreparable damage to the reputation of the architect Sir John Vanbrugh.
Designed in the rare, and short-lived, English Baroque style, architectural appreciation of the palace is as divided today as it was in the 1720s. It is unique in its combined usage as a family home,mausoleum and national monument. The palace is also notable as the birthplace and ancestral home of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. The building of the palace was a minefield of political intrigue by Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. Following the palace’s completion, it became the home of the Churchill family for the following 300 years, and various members of the family have in that period wrought various changes, in the interiors, park and gardens. At the end of the 19th century, the palace and the Churchills were saved from ruin by an American marriage. Thus, the exterior of the palace remains in good repair and exactly as completed.
Bath is a city in the ceremonial county of Somerset in the south west of England. It is situated 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 13 miles (21 km) south-east of Bristol. It was granted city status by Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1590, and was made a county borough in 1889 which gave it administrative independence from its county, Somerset. The city became part of Avon when that county was created in 1974. Since 1996, when Avon was abolished, Bath has been the principal centre of the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset (B & NES). The city was first established as a spa with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sulis”) by the Romans in AD 43, although verbal tradition suggests that Bath was known before then. They built baths and a temple on the surrounding hills of Bath in the valley of the River Avon around hot springs. Edgar was crowned king of England at Bath Abbey in 973. Much later, it became popular as a spa town during the Georgian era, which led to a major expansion that left a heritage of exemplary Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone. The City of Bath was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1987. The city has a variety of theatres, museums, and other cultural and sporting venues, which have helped to make it a major centre for tourism, with over one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city each year. The city has two universities and several schools and colleges.
One of Bath’s principal industries is tourism, with more than one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city on an annual basis. The visits mainly fall into the categories of heritage tourism and cultural tourism, aided by the city’s selection in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognising its international cultural significance. All significant stages of the history of England are represented within the city, from the Roman Baths (including their significant Celtic presence), to Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent, to Thermae Bath Spa in the 2000s. The size of the tourist industry is reflected in the almost 300 places of accommodation – including over 80 hotels, and over 180 bed and breakfasts – many of which are located in Georgian buildings. The history of the city is displayed at the Building of Bath Collection which is housed in a building which was built in 1765 as the Trinity Presbyterian Church. It was also known as the Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel, as she lived in the attached house from 1707 to 1791. Two of the hotels have ‘five-star’ ratings. There are also two campsites located on the western edge of the city. The city also contains about 100 restaurants, and a similar number of public houses and bars. Several companies offer open-top bus tours around the city, as well as tours on foot and on the river. Since 2006, with the opening of Thermae Bath Spa, the city has attempted to recapture its historical position as the only town in the United Kingdom offering visitors the opportunity to bathe in naturally heated spring waters. In the 2010 Google Street View Best Streets Awards, the Royal Crescent took the second place in the “Britain’s Most Picturesque Street” award, first place being given to The Shambles in York. Milsom Street was also awarded “Britain’s Best Fashion Street”.
The Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd refers to a UNESCO-designated site of patrimony located in Gwynedd, Wales. In 1986, four castles related to the reign of King Edward I of England were proclaimed collectively as a World Heritage Site, as outstanding examples of fortifications and military architecture built in the 13th century. Sites designated were:
- Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey
- Caernarfon Castle, Caernarfon
- Conwy Castle, Conwy
- Harlech Castle, Harlech
Edward I entirely built or rebuilt eight castles in Wales: Aberystwyth, Beaumaris, Builth, Caernarfon, Conwy, Flint, Harlech, and Rhuddlan. He also repaired the Welsh castles of Castell y Bere, Criccieth, Dolwyddelan, and Caergwrle. Chirk,Denbigh, Hawarden, Holt, and Ruthin were lordship castles built for Edward.
St Augustine’s Abbey was a Benedictine abbey in Canterbury, Kent, England.
This palace was leased to a succession of nobles, and in the early 17th century was in the possession of Edward Lord Wotton, who employed John Tradescant the elder, to lay out formal gardens around it. This palace is thought to have survived until a great storm in 1703, which certainly caused great damage to the already ruinous structure of the abbey. Now a World Heritage Site, the ruins of this important monastic foundation built by Saint Augustine are in the care of English Heritage. Today the ruin precincts cover a substantial area east of the cathedral, and in fact, in its heyday the abbey’s church rivalled nearby Canterbury Cathedral in size.
Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England and forms part of a World Heritage Site.
It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Its formal title is the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury. The cathedral’s first archbishop was Augustine of Canterbury, previously abbot of St. Andrew’s Benedictine Abbey in Rome. He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great in 597 as a missionary to the Anglo-Saxons. Augustine founded the cathedral in 602 and dedicated it to St. Saviour. Archaeological investigations under the nave floor in 1993 revealed the foundations of the original Saxon cathedral, which had been built across a former Roman road. Augustine also founded the Abbey of St. Peter and Paul outside the city walls. This was later rededicated to St. Augustine himself and was for many centuries the burial place of the successive archbishops. The abbey is part of the World Heritage Site of Canterbury.
The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape is a World Heritage Site which includes select mining landscapes across Cornwall and West Devon in the south west of the United Kingdom. The site was added to the World Heritage List during the 30th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Vilnius, July 2006.
Up to the mid-16th century, Devon produced approximately 25-40% of the amount of tin that Cornwall did but the total amount of tin production from both Cornwall and Devon during this period was relatively small. After the 1540s, Cornwall’s production took off and Devon’s production was only about between a ninth to a tenth of that of Cornwall. From the mid-16th century onwards, the Devon Stannaries were worth very little in income to the King and were sidelined as such following the Supremacy of Parliament Act 1512 (this does not apply to the Stannaries of Cornwall). The landscapes of Cornwall and West Devon were radically reshaped during the 18th and 19th centuries by deep-lode mining for copper and tin. The underground mines, engine houses, foundries, new towns, smallholdings, ports, harbours, and ancillary industries together reflect prolific innovation which, in the early 19th century, enabled the region to produce two-thirds of the world’s supply of copper. During the late 19th century, arsenic production came into ascendancy with mines in the east of Cornwall and West Devon supplying half the world’s demand. The early 19th century also saw a revolution in steam technology which was to radically transform hard-rock mining fortunes. The high-pressure expansively operated beam pumping engine developed by the engineers Richard Trevithick and Arthur Woolf enabled mining at much greater depths than had been possible hitherto. Cornish-design beam engines and other mining machinery was to be exported from major engineering foundries in Hayle, Perranarworthal, Tavistock and elsewhere to mining fields around the world throughout the century. Commencing in the early 19th century, significant numbers of mine workers migrated to live and work in mining communities based on Cornish traditions, this flow reaching its zenith at the end of the 19th century. Today numerous migrant-descended Cornish communities flourish around the world and distinctive Cornish-design engine houses can be seen in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, the British Virgin Islands, Spain, and in the mining fields of other parts of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man. A much reduced mining industry continued in Cornwall after the copper crash of the 1860s with production mainly focused on tin. Metalliferous mining finally ceased in Cornwall in 1998 with the closure of South Crofty Mine, Pool, the last tin mine to operate in Europe.
Derwent Valley Mills is a World Heritage Site along the River Derwent in Derbyshire, England, designated in December 2001. It is administered by the Derwent Valley Mills Partnership. The modern factory, or ‘mill’, system was born here in the 18th century to accommodate the new technology for spinning cotton developed by Richard Arkwright. With advancements in technology, it became possible to produce cotton continuously. The system was adopted throughout the valley, and later spread so that by 1788 there were over 200 Arkwright-type mills in Britain. Arkwright’s inventions and system of organising labour was exported to Europe and the United States.
Water-power was first introduced to England by John Lombe at his silk mill in Derby in 1719, but it was Richard Arkwright who applied water-power to the process of producing cotton in the 1770s. His patent of a water frame allowed cotton to be spun continuously and meant it could be produced by unskilled workers. Cromford Mill and Cromford was the site of Arkwright’s first mill, and his system of production and worker’s housing was copied throughout the valley. To ensure the presence of a labour force, it was necessary to construct housing for the mill workers. Thus, new settlements were established by mill owners around the mills – sometimes developing a pre-existing community – with their own amenities such as schools, chapels, and markets. Most of the housing still exists and is still in use. Along with the transport infrastructure form part of the site. A transport infrastructure was built to open new markets for the mills’ produce.Mills and worker’s settlements were established at Belper, Darley Abbey, and Milford by Arkwright’s competitors. Arkwright-type mills were so successful that sometimes they were copied without paying royalties to Richard Arkwright. The cotton industry in the Derwent Valley went into decline in the first quarter of the 19th century as the market shifted towards Lancashire which was better position in relation to markets and raw materials. The mills and their associated buildings are well preserved and have been reused since the cotton industry declined. Many of the buildings within the World Heritage Site are also listed buildings and Scheduled Monuments. Some of the mills now contain museums and are open to the public.
Durham Castle is a Norman castle in the city of Durham, England, which has been wholly occupied since 1840 by University College, Durham. It is open to the general public to visit, but only through guided tours, since it is in use as a working building and is home to over 100 students. The castle stands on top of a hill above the River Wear on Durham’s peninsula, opposite Durham Cathedral.
The castle was originally built in the 11th century as a projection of the Norman king’s power in the north of England, as the population of England in the north remained “wild and fickle” following the disruption of the Norman Conquest in 1066. It is an example of the early motte and bailey castles favoured by the Normans. The holder of the office of the Bishop of Durham was appointed by the King to exercise royal authority on his behalf, the Castle was his seat. It remained the Bishop’s palace for the Bishops of Durham until the Bishops made Auckland Castle their primary residence and the castle was converted into a college. The castle has a large Great Hall, created by Bishop Antony Bek in the early 14th century. It was the largest Great Hall in Britain until Bishop Richard Foxe shortened it at the end of the 15th century. However, it is still 14 m high and over 30 m long.
The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham (usually known as Durham Cathedral) is a cathedral in the city of Durham, England, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093. The cathedral is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with nearby Durham Castle, which faces it across Palace Green. The present cathedral replaces the 10th century “White Church” built as part of a monastic foundation to house the shrine of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. The treasures of Durham Cathedral include relics of St Cuthbert, the head of StOswald of Northumbria and the remains of the Venerable Bede. Durham Cathedral occupies a strategic position on a promontory high above the River Wear. From 1080 until the 19th century the bishopric enjoyed the powers of a Bishop Palatine, having military as well as religious leadership and power.Durham Castle was built as the residence for the Bishop of Durham. The seat of the Bishop of Durham is the fourth most significant in the Church of England hierarchy, and he stands at the right hand of the monarch at coronations. Signposts for the modern day County Durham are subtitled “Land of the Prince Bishops.” There are daily Church of England services at the Cathedral, with the Durham Cathedral Choir singing daily except Mondays and when the choir is on holiday. The cathedral is a major tourist attraction within the region, the central tower of 217 feet (66 m) giving views of Durham and the surrounding area.
Hadrian’s Wall was a defensive fortification in Roman Britain. Begun in AD 122, during the rule of emperor Hadrian, it was the first of two fortifications built across Great Britain, the second being the Antonine Wall, lesser known of the two because its physical remains are less evident today.
The wall was the most heavily fortified border in the Empire. In addition to its role as a military fortification, it is thought that many of the gates through the wall would have served as customs posts to allow trade and levy taxation. A significant portion of the wall still exists, particularly the mid-section, and for much of its length the wall can be followed on foot by Hadrian’s Wall Path or by cycle on National Cycle Route 72. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. English Heritage, a government organisation in charge of managing the historic environment of England, describes it as “the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain”.
Hadrian’s Wall extended west from Segedunum at Wallsend on the River Tyne to the shore of the Solway Firth, ending a short but unknown distance west of the village of Bowness-on-Solway. Although the curtain wall ends near Bowness-on-Solway, this does not mark the end of the line of defensive structures. The system of Milecastles and Turrets is known to have continued along the Cumbria coast as far as Maryport. For classification purposes, the Milecastles west of Bowness-on-Solway are referred to as Milefortlets. The A69 and B6318 roads follow the course of the wall as it starts in Newcastle upon Tyne to Carlisle, then along the northern coast of Cumbria (south shore of the Solway Firth). It is a common misconception that Hadrian’s wall marks the boundary between England and Scotland. This is not the case; Hadrian’s wall lies entirely within England, and south of the border with Scotland by less than one kilometre in the west at Bowness-on-Solway, and 110 kilometres (68 miles) in the east.
The Giant’s Causeway (known in Irish as Clochán an Aifir or Clochán na bhFómharach) is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of anancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles (4.8 km) northeast of the town of Bushmills.
It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant’s Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (39 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places.
The Giant’s Causeway is today owned and managed by the National Trust and it is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.
Gough Island also known historically as Gonçalo Álvares or Diego Alvarez, is a volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is a dependency of Tristan da Cunha and part of the British overseas territory ofSaint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. It is uninhabited except for the personnel of a weather station (usually six people) which the South African National Antarctic Programme has maintained continually on the island since 1956. It is one of the most remote places with a constant human presence.
Gough and Inaccessible Island are a protected wildlife reserve, which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has been described as one of the least disrupted ecosystems of its kind and one of the best shelters for nesting seabirds in the Atlantic. In particular, it is host to almost the entire world population of the Tristan Albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) and the Atlantic Petrel (Pterodroma incerta). However, this status is now in doubt as in April 2007 researchers published evidence that predation by introduced house mice on seabird chicks is occurring at levels that might drive the Tristan Albatross and the Atlantic Petrel to extinction. The island is also home to the almost flightlessGough Island Moorhen, and the critically endangered Gough Bunting. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has since been awarded £62,000 by the UK government’s Overseas Territories Environment Programme to fund additional research on the Gough Island mice and a feasibility study of how best to deal with them.
Inaccessible Island is an extinct volcano, 14 km² (5.5 sq mi) in area, rising out of the South Atlantic Ocean 45 km (28 mi) southwest of Tristan da Cunha. Inaccessible Island is located at 37°18′9″S 12°40′28″WCoordinates: 37°18′9″S 12°40′28″W. It is part of the archipelago of Tristan da Cunha, which is part of the overseas territory of the United Kingdom, known as Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Throughout its history it has had no permanent population and together with Gough Island is a protected wildlife reserve which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Heart of Neolithic Orkney refers to a group of Neolithic monuments found on the Mainland, one of the islands of Orkney, Scotland. The name was adopted by UNESCO when it proclaimed these sites as a World Heritage Site in 1999. The site of patrimony currently consists of four sites:
- Maeshowe – a unique chambered cairn and passage grave, aligned so that its central chamber is illuminated on the winter solstice. It was looted by Vikings who left one of the largest collections of runic inscriptions in the world.
- Standing Stones of Stenness – the four remaining megaliths of a henge, the largest of which is 6 metres (19 ft) high.
- Ring of Brodgar – a stone circle 104 metres in diameter, originally composed of 60 stones set within a circular ditch up to 3 metres deep and 10 metres wide, forming a henge monument. It has been estimated that the structure took 80,000 man-hours to construct.
- Skara Brae – a cluster of ten houses making up Northern Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic village.
Ness of Brodgar is an archaeological site between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness that has provided evidence of housing, decorated stone slabs, a massive stone wall with foundations, and a large building described as a Neolithic “cathedral”.
Henderson Island is an uninhabited raised coral atoll in the south Pacific Ocean, annexed to the Pitcairn Islands colony in 1902. Measuring 9.6 kilometres (6.0 mi) long and 5.1 kilometres (3.2 mi) wide, it has an area of 37.3 square kilometres (14.4 sq mi) and is located 193 kilometres (120 mi) northeast of Pitcairn Island at 24°22′01″S 128°18′57″W. The island was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1988. It is unsuitable for agriculture and has little fresh water. There are three beaches on the northern side and the remaining coast comprises steep, mostly undercut, cliffs up to 15 metres (49 ft) in height.
Henderson Island is a raised coral atoll, that with Pitcairn, Ducie and Oeno Islands, forms the Pitcairn Island Group, a South Pacific Dependent Territory of the United Kingdom. The nearest major landmass is more than 5,000 kilometers away. This coral limestone island sits atop a conical (presumed volcanic) mound, rising from a depth of roughly 3500 metres. Its surface is mostly reef-rubble and dissected limestone; an extremely rugged mixture of steep, jagged pinnacles and shallow sink holes, and the island is encircled by steep, undercut limestone cliffs on all but the north side. There are three main beaches, on the north-west, north, and north-east sides, and the north and north-west sides are fringed by reefs. The depression at the island’s centre is thought to be a raised lagoon. There is only one known fresh water spring. The surrounding ocean rises about one metre at spring tide.
St. George’s located on the island and within the parish of the same names, was the first permanent settlement on the islands of Bermuda, and is often described as the third successful English settlement in the Americas, after St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Jamestown, Virginia. However, St. George’s is claimed to be the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the New World. Although Jamestown is normally described as having been founded in 1607, this was actually James Fort, which was not converted to Jamestown until 1619, seven years after the founding of St. George’s. After the capital of Virginia was transferred from Jamestown to Williamsburg in 1699, Jamestown fell into disuse. Only below-ground achaeological remains of the town exist today. As the claim of St. John’s to official establishment in the 16th Century, and to permanent settlement since that date are difficult to verify, St. George’s is not simply the oldest successful English settlement in the New World, but was also the first such town established. The town is the largest settlement in Bermuda.
The Ironbridge Gorge is a deep gorge formed by the River Severn in Shropshire, England. Originally called the Severn Gorge, the gorge now takes its name from its famous Iron Bridge, the first iron bridge of its kind in the world, and a monument to the industry that began there. The bridge was built in 1779 to link the industrial town of Broseley with the smaller mining town of Madeley and the growing industrial centre of Coalbrookdale. There are two reasons the site was so useful to the early industrialists. The raw materials, coal, iron ore, limestone and clay, for the manufacture of iron, tiles and porcelain are exposed or easily mined in the gorge. The deep and wide river allowed easy transport of products to the sea. The gorge carries the River Severn south towards the Bristol Channel. It was formed during the last ice age when the output from the previously north flowing river became trapped in a lake (Lake Lapworth) created when the Irish Sea ice sheet dammed the river. The level of the lake rose until it was able to flow over the hills to the south. This flow eroded a path through the hills forming the gorge and permanently diverting the Severn southwards.
Green Wood Centre is a national leading body on the revival of the coppicing industry and has spent over twenty years training new coppice and woodland workers. Severn Gorge Countryside Trust manages most of the woodland, grassland and other countryside within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, around 260 hectares (700 acres) in all. Working with Severn Gorge Countryside Trust is BTCV’s Green Gym which assist them on woodland work. Severn Gorge Countryside Trust and The Green Wood Centre run a joint volunteer project enabling local people to work local land in activities such as coppicing, scrub removal, deer fencing, step building and woodland management. Areas where you’ll be able to see the kind of work done are Benthall Edge, Lloyds Coppice and Captain’s coppice. All within walking distance of the Ironbridge.
The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English Channel coast of southern England. The site stretches from Orcombe Point near Exmouth in East Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in East Dorset, a distance of 153 kilometres (95 mi). Chartered in 2001, the Jurassic coast was the second wholly natural World Heritage Site to be designated in the United Kingdom. Its entire length can be walked on the South West Coast Path.
The Jurassic Coast consists of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs, spanning the Mesozoic Era, documenting 180 million years of geological history. The site shows excellent examples of landforms, including the natural arch at Durdle Door, the cove and limestone folding at Lulworth Cove and an island, the Isle of Portland. Chesil Beach is a fine example of both atombolo (a deposition landform in which an island is attached to the mainland by a narrow piece of land such as a spit or bar) and a storm beach (a beach affected by particularly fierce waves). The site has stretches of both concordant and discordant coastlines. Due to the quality of the varied geology, the site is the subject of international field studies. This area was home to Mary Anning, a palaeontologist who studied the fossils of the coastline around Lyme Regis and discovered the first complete Ichthyosaur fossil. The highest point on the Jurassic Coast, and on the entire south coast of Britain, is Golden Cap at 191 metres (627 ft).
The Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site in Liverpool, England. It comprises six locations in the city centre of Liverpool including the Pier Head, Albert Dock and William Brown Street, and includes many of the city’s most famous landmarks. UNESCO received the city council’s nomination for the six sites in January 2003 and in September of that year sent ICOMOS representaitves to carry out an evaluation on the eligibility for these areas to be given World Heritage Status. In March 2004 ICOMOS recommended that UNESCO inscribe the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City as a World Heritage Site. The area was inscribed during the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2004 under cultural criteria ii, iii and iv. Its inclusion by UNESCO was attributed to the fact that it was ‘the supreme example of a commercial port at a time of Britain’s greatest global influence’.
The Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City comprises six separate locations throughout the centre of the city, each of which relates to a different component and time in the Liverpool’s maritime history. The inscripted sites extend for approximately 4 km north-south along the city’s waterfront and stretch approximately 1 km east-west. In total it covers an area of 136 hectares
- The Pier Head
- The Albert Dock
- The Stanley Dock Conservation Area
- Duke Street Conservation Area/ Ropewalks
- The ‘Commercial Quarter’/Castle Street Conservation Area
- The ‘Cultural Quarter’/ William Brown Street Conservation Area
In 1997, Maritime Greenwich was added to the list of World Heritage Sites, for the concentration and quality of buildings of historic and architectural interest. These can be divided into the group of buildings along the riverfront, Greenwich park and theGeorgian and Victorian town centre. In recognition of the suburb’s astronomical links, Asteroid 2830 has been named ‘Greenwich’.
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is a term originally referring to mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. It is commonly used in practice to refer to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) when this is viewed as a time zone, especially by bodies connected with the United Kingdom, such as the BBC World Service, the Royal Navy, the Met Office and others, although strictly UTC is an atomic time scale which only approximates GMT with a tolerance of 0.9 second. It is also used to refer toUniversal Time (UT), which is a standard astronomical concept used in many technical fields and is referred to by the phrase Zulu time.
As the United Kingdom grew into an advanced maritime nation, British mariners kept at least one chronometer on GMT in order to calculate their longitude from the Greenwich meridian, which was by convention considered to have longitude zero degrees (this convention was internationally adopted in the International Meridian Conference of 1884). Note that the synchronization of the chronometer on GMT did not affect shipboard time itself, which was still solar time. But this practice, combined with mariners from other nations drawing from Nevil Maskelyne’s method of lunar distances based on observations at Greenwich, eventually led to GMT being used worldwide as a reference time independent of location. Most time zones were based upon this reference as a number of hours and half-hours “ahead of GMT” or “behind GMT”.
New Lanark is a village on the River Clyde, approximately 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometres) from Lanark, in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It was founded in 1786 by David Dale, who built cotton mills and housing for the mill workers. Dale built the mills there to take advantage of the water power provided by the river. Under the ownership of a partnership that included Dale’s son-in-law, Robert Owen, a Welsh philanthropist and social reformer, New Lanark became a successful business and an epitome ofutopian socialism. The New Lanark mills operated until 1968. After a period of decline, the New Lanark Conservation Trust (NLCT) was founded in 1975 to prevent demolition of the village. By 2006 most of the buildings have been restored and the village has become amajor tourist attraction. It is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland and an Anchor Point of ERIH – The European Route of Industrial Heritage.
There is a large free car park on the outskirts of the village. Only disabled visitors may park in the village. There is a bus service from Lanark, which has a railway station with half-hourly services from Glasgow. The village has a three-star hotel, the New Lanark Mill Hotel, owned and operated by the New Lanark Conservation Trust; holiday flats, the Waterhouses, let by the hotel; and a youth hostel operated by the Scottish Youth Hostels Association. There are restaurants and shops in the village, and a visitors’ centre. The Clyde walkway long distance footpath passes through the village and the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s visitor centre for the Falls of Clyde Nature reserve is based in a group of mill buildings.
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and the second largest city in Scotland. The Old Town and New Town districts of Edinburgh were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. There are over 4,500 listed buildings within the city.
The city is well-known for the annual Edinburgh Festival, a collection of official and independent festivals held annually over about four weeks from early August.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a navigable aqueduct that carries the Llangollen Canal over the valley of the River Dee in Wrexham in north east Wales. Completed in 1805, it is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain, a Grade I Listed Building and a World Heritage Site. When the bridge was built it linked the villages of Froncysyllte, at the southern end of the bridge in the Cysyllte township of Llangollen parish (from where it takes its name ), and Trevor, at the northern end of the bridge in the Trevor Isaf township of Llangollen parish. Both townships were later transferred to Wrexham County Borough following local government reorganisation. The name is in the Welsh language and means “Cysyllte Bridge”. For most of its existence it was known as Pont y Cysyllte (“Bridge of Cysyllte”). Other translations such as “Bridge of the Junction” or “The Bridge that links” are modern, and incorrect, inventions, from the literal English translation of cysyllte being “junctions” or “links”.
The aqueduct and surrounding lands were submitted to the tentative list of properties being considered for UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1999. The aqueduct was suggested as a contender in 2005—its 200th anniversary year—and it was formally announced in 2006 that a larger proposal, covering a section of the canal from the aqueduct to Horseshoe Falls would be the United Kingdom’s 2008 nomination. The length of canal from Rhoswiel, Shropshire to the Horseshoe Falls including the main Pontcysyllte Aqueduct structure as well as the older Chirk Aqueduct, were visited by assessors from UNESCO during October 2008, to analyse and confirm the site management and authenticity. The aqueduct was inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage List on 27 June 2009, alongside previously inscribed sites such as the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China and Stonehenge. In March 2010 it was reported that the site had attracted a thriving community of otters.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, usually referred to as Kew Gardens and often shortened to “Kew”, are 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses between Richmond and Kew in southwest London, England. “The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew” and the brand name “Kew” are also used as umbrella terms for the institution that runs both the gardens at Kew and Wakehurst Place gardens in Sussex. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is an internationally important botanical research and education institution with 700 staff and an income of £56 million for the year ended 31 March 2008, as well as a visitor attraction receiving almost two million visits in that year. Created in 1759, the gardens celebrated their 250th anniversary in 2009.
The Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is responsible for the world’s largest collection of living plants. The organisation employs more than 650 scientists and other staff. The living collections include more than 30,000 different kinds of plants, while the herbarium, which is one of the largest in the world, has over seven million preserved plant specimens. The library contains more than 750,000 volumes, and the illustrations collection contains more than 175,000 prints and drawings of plants. The Kew site includes four Grade I listed buildings and 36 Grade II listed structures in an internationally significant landscape.
St Kilda is an isolated archipelago 64 kilometres (40 mi) west-northwest of North Uist in the North Atlantic Ocean. It contains the westernmost islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The largest island is Hirta, whose sea cliffs are the highest in the United Kingdom. The islands are administratively a part of the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar local authority area. St Kilda was permanently inhabited for at least two millennia, its population probably never exceeding 180 (and certainly no more than 100 after 1851). The entire population was evacuated from Hirta (the only inhabited island) in 1930. Currently, the only year-round residents are defence personnel although a variety of conservation workers, volunteers and scientists spend time there in the summer months.
The origin of the name St Kilda is a matter of conjecture. The islands’ human heritage includes numerous unique architectural features from the historic and prehistoric periods, although the earliest written records of island life date from the Late Middle Ages. The medieval village on Hirta was rebuilt in the 19th century, but the influences of religious zeal, illnesses brought by increased external contacts through tourism, and the First World War all contributed to the island’s evacuation in 1930. The story of St Kilda has attracted artistic interpretations, including an opera. The entire archipelago is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It became one of Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites in 1986 and is one of the few in the world to hold joint status for its natural and cultural qualities. Two different early sheep types have survived on these remote islands, the Soay, a Neolithic type, and the Boreray, an Iron Age type. The islands are a breeding ground for many important seabird species including Northern Gannets, Atlantic Puffins, and Northern Fulmars. The St Kilda Wren and St Kilda Field Mouse are endemic subspecies. Parties of volunteers work on the islands in the summer to restore the many ruined buildings the native St Kildans left behind. They share the island with a small military base established in 1957
Saltaire is a Victorian model village within the City of Bradford Metropolitan District, West Yorkshire, England, by the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. UNESCO has designated the village as a World Heritage Site, and it is an Anchor Point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage.
In December 2001, Saltaire was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This means that the government has a duty to protect the site. The buildings belonging to the model village are individually listed, with the highest level of protection given to the Congregational church (since 1972 known as the United Reformed Church) which is listed grade I. The village has survived remarkably complete, but further protection is needed as the village is blighted by traffic through the Aire Valley, an important east-west route. A bypass is proposed to relieve traffic pressure. Roberts Park, on the north side of the river, has suffered from neglect and vandalism but has been restored by Bradford Council
Saltaire is a conservation area. Victoria Hall (originally the Saltaire Institute) is used for meetings and concerts, and houses a Victorian Reed Organ Museum. The village is served by Saltaire railway station. The Saltaire Festival, which first took place in 2003 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the foundation of Saltaire, is held every year over eleven days in September. Politically, Saltaire is part of the Shipley electoral ward of the City of Bradford, and part of the parliamentary constituency of Shipley, currently represented by Philip Davies of the Conservatives. From 1999 to 2005, parliamentarians from three chambers, Chris Leslie MP in the House of Commons, Lord Wallace of Saltaire in the House of Lords and Richard Corbett MEP in the European Parliament, all lived in Saltaire.
Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Wiltshire, England. The WHS covers two large areas of land separated by nearly 30 miles, rather than a specific monument or building. The sites were inscribed as co-listings in 1986.
The Stonehenge area of the WHS is located in south Wiltshire. It covers an area of 26 square km and is centred on the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge.
Monuments in the Stonehenge WHS
The Lesser Cursus
Coneybury Henge (a henge that has been ploughed flat )
King Barrow Ridge (broken link, June 2010)
Winterbourne Stoke Barrows
Normanton Down Barrows, including Bush Barrow
Robin Hood’s Ball (an associated monument located just north of the WHS boundary)
Stonehenge New Henge
The Avebury area of the WHS is located in northern Wiltshire. It covers an area of 22.5 square km and is centred on the prehistoric Avebury Henge.
Monuments in the Avebury WHS
- Avebury Henge
West Kennet Avenue
West Kennet Long Barrow
Studley Royal Park is a park containing, and developed around, the ruins of the Cistercian Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire, England. It is a World Heritage Site. The site also contains features dating from the eighteenth century such as Studley Royal Water Garden.
The water garden at Studley Royal is one of the best surviving examples of a Georgian water garden in England. The garden was created by John Aislabie in 1718. It was expanded by his son, William, after Aislabie’s death. William expanded the property, purchasing the adjacent Fountains Estate. The garden’s elegant ornamental lakes, canals, temples and cascades provide a succession of dramatic eye-catching vistas. The garden is also studded with a number of follies including a neo-Gothic castle and a palladian style banqueting house.
St Mary’s Church was one of two, late Victorian, memorial churches in Yorkshire, built by the family of the First Marquess of Ripon in memory of Frederick Grantham Vyner. The other is the Church of Christ the Consoler at Skelton-on-Ure, and the architect of both was William Burges. Vyner was murdered by Greek bandits in 1870 and his mother, Lady Mary Vyner, and his sister, Lady Ripon, determined to use the unspent ransom, gathered to obtain his release, to build two churches in Vyner’s memory on their respective Yorkshire estates. Burges’ appointment as architect was most likely due to the connection between his greatest patron, John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute and Vyner, who had been friends at Oxford. St Mary’s, on Lady Ripon’s estate at Studley Royal, was commissioned in 1870 and work began in 1871. The church was consecrated in 1878. As at Skelton, Burges’ design demonstrates a move from his favoured Early-French, to an English style. Pevsner writes of “a Victorian shrine, a dream of Early English glory.” The interior is spectacular, exceeding Skelton in richness and majesty. The stained glass is of particularly high quality. St Mary’s is Burges’ “ecclesiastical masterpiece.” The church stands in a medieval deer park, home to 500 deer and a wealth of flora and fauna. The Deer Park once enclosed Studley Royal House, but this was largely destroyed by fire in December 1716 and had to be almost entirely rebuilt. The replacement building, was, in turn, extensively damaged by fire in 1946 and was demolished soon afterwards. Only the large stable block, built between 1728 and 1732, has survived. This is now a private house. Until about 2000 it belonged to Paul Sykes, but has since been purchased by the author Susie Bulmer.
Fountains Abbey mill
The mill is the only 12th-century Cistercian cornmill left in the UK and the oldest ‘intact’ building on the estate.
Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison since at least 1100, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.
The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. From the early 14th century until the reign of Charles II, a procession would be led from the Tower to Westminster Abbey on the coronation of a monarch. In the absence of the monarch, the Constable of the Tower is in charge of the castle. This was a powerful and trusted position in the medieval period. In the late 15th century the castle was the prison of the Princes in the Tower. Under the Tudors, the Tower became used less as a royal residence, and despite attempts to refortify and repair the castle its defences lagged behind developments to deal with artillery.
The peak period of the castle’s use as a prison was the 16th and 17th centuries, when many figures fallen into disgrace, such as Elizabeth I before she became queen, were held within its walls. This use has led to the phrase “sent to the Tower”. Despite its enduring reputation as a place of torture and death, popularised by 16th-century religious propagandists and 19th-century writers, only seven people were executed within the Tower before the World Wars of the 20th century. Executions were more commonly held on the notorious Tower Hill to the north of the castle, with 112 occurring there over a 400-year period. In the latter half of the 19th century, institutions such as the Royal Mint moved out of the castle to other locations, leaving many buildings empty. Anthony Salvin and John Taylor took the opportunity to restore the Tower to what was felt to be its medieval appearance, clearing out many of the vacant post-medieval structures. In the First and Second World Wars, the Tower was again used as a prison, and witnessed the executions of 12 men for espionage. After the wars, damage caused during the Blitz was repaired and the castle reopened to the public. Today the Tower of London is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. It is cared for by the charity Historic Royal Palaces and is protected as a World Heritage Site.
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in Westminster, London, England (United Kingdom), located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English, later British and later still (and currently) monarchs of the Commonwealth realms. The abbey is a Royal Peculiar and briefly held the status of a cathedral from 1546 to 1556.
Westminster Abbey is a collegiate church governed by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, as established by Royal charter of Queen Elizabeth I in 1560, which created it as the Collegiate Church of St Peter Westminster and a Royal Peculiar under the personal jurisdiction of the Sovereign. The members of the Chapter are the Dean and four residentiary Canons, assisted by the Receiver General and Chapter Clerk. One of the Canons is also Rector of St Margaret’s Church, Westminster, and often holds also the post of Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. In addition to the Dean and Canons, there are at present two full-time minor canons, one precentor, the other succentor. The office of Priest Vicar was created in the 1970s for those who assist the minor canons. Together with the Clergy and Receiver General and Chapter Clerk, various Lay Officers constitute the College, including the Organist and Master of the Choristers, the Registrar, the Auditor, the Legal Secretary, the Surveyor of the Fabric, the Head Master of the Choir School, the Keeper of the Muniments and the Clerk of the Works, as well as twelve Lay Vicars and ten of the choristers and the High Steward and High Bailiff. There are also forty Queen’s Scholars who are pupils at Westminster School (the School has its own Governing Body). Those who are most directly concerned with liturgical and ceremonial matters are the two Minor Canons and the Organist and Master of the Choristers.
The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom—the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the heart of the London borough of the City of Westminster, close to the historic Westminster Abbey and the government buildings of Whitehall and Downing Street. The name may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex most of which was destroyed in 1834, and its replacement New Palace that stands today; it has retained its original style and status as a royal residence for ceremonial purposes.
The first royal palace was built on the site in the eleventh century, and Westminster was the primary London residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. After that, it served as the home of Parliament, which had been meeting there since the thirteenth century, and the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in and around Westminster Hall. In 1834, an even greater fire ravaged the heavily rebuilt Houses of Parliament, and the only structures of significance to survive were Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephen’s, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft and the Jewel Tower. The subsequent competition for the reconstruction of the Palace was won by architect Charles Barry and his design for a building in the Perpendicular Gothic style. The remains of the Old Palace (with the exception of the detached Jewel Tower) were incorporated in its much larger replacement, which contains over 1,100 rooms organised symmetrically around two series of courtyards. Part of the New Palace’s area of 3.24 hectares (8 acres) was reclaimed from the Thames, which is the setting of its principal façade, the 266-metre (873 ft) river front. Barry was assisted by Augustus W. N. Pugin, a leading authority on Gothic architecture and style, who provided designs for the decoration and furnishings of the Palace. Construction started in 1840 and lasted for thirty years, suffering great delays and cost overruns, as well as the death of both leading architects; works for the interior decoration continued intermittently well into the twentieth century. Major conservation work has been carried out since, due to the effects of London’s air pollution, and extensive repairs took place after the Second World War, including the reconstruction of the Commons Chamber following its bombing in 1941.
The Palace is one of the centres of political life in the United Kingdom; “Westminster” has become a metonym for the UK Parliament, and the Westminster system of government has taken its name after it. Its Clock Tower, in particular, which has become known as “Big Ben” after its main bell, is an iconic landmark of London and the United Kingdom in general, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and an emblem of parliamentary democracy. The Palace of Westminster has been a Grade I listed building since 1970 and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
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