A long railway journey to Bishop Auckland has given me a chance to settle into James Stourton’s new and invaluable book on Heritage: A History of How We Conserve Our Past (London: Head of Zeus, 2022).

I’m pleased to find reference both to the long-running battle over the Whitechapel Bell Foundry – if the Bell Foundry had come onto the market in the 1970s when there was such an appetite for industrial archaeology, it might have been saved – and Jonathan Ruffer’s project to save the Bishop’s Palace in Bishop Auckland, together with the set of Zurbaran’s owned by Bishop Trevor, and buying the local railway, and establishing a Gallery of Spanish Painting. It’s altogether a model of creative heritage-led regeneration – the product of individual will, rather than political process, one of Stourton’s themes.


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