HL Deb 12 March 1981 vol 418 cc508-9WA
Lord Kennet

asked Her Majesty's Government:

(1) How many and which ancient monuments or historic buildings in the care of the Secretary of State for the Environment under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments Acts have been or are currently being considered by him for transfer to other custody;

(2) how many and which ancient monuments or historic buildings in England in national ownership or guardianship, whether under the provisions of the ancient Monuments Acts or as historic properties of the Crown, have been temporarily or permanently closed to the public in whole or part as a result of the withdrawal or non-replacement of their custodians;

(3) what consequential reduction is proposed to be made in the cost to visitors from home and overseas of the so-called "Season Ticket to History" admitting them to all monuments in the Minister's charge;

(4) what arrangements have been made for advising would-be visitors that they are liable to find monuments hitherto advertised as permanently open either permanently closed or closed on the day they happen to arrive to see them; and

(5) the number of the directly employed labour force engaged on Ancient Monuments preservation work on (a) 1st March 1979 and (b) 1st March 1981, in England.

The Earl of Avon

(1) The Secretary of State is considering the possible transfer to the care of the local authority, which has similar powers with regard to ancient monuments to those of the Secretary of State, of Battle Abbey (to East Sussex County Council) and the Roman Amphitheatre at Cirencester (to Cirencester Town Council) and is considering changing arrangements at Fountains Abbey (North Yorkshire County Council).

(2) This reply relates to ancient monuments and historic buildings in England in the care of the Secretary of State for the Environment. It would not be possible to answer for other historic properties in the ownership of the Crown, except at disproportionate cost. The following 20 monuments are temporarily closed because of withdrawal or non-replacement of custodians:

  • Bayham Abbey
  • Bishops Waltham Palace
  • Castle Acre Priory
  • Castle Rising Castle
  • 509
  • Chiswick House
  • Dartmouth Castle
  • Dunstanburgh Castle
  • Furness Abbey
  • Guisborough Priory
  • Kirby Muxloe Castle
  • Langley Chapel
  • Launceston Castle
  • Maison Dieu
  • Mortimers Cross Mill
  • Netley Abbey
  • Norham Castle
  • Pevensey Castle
  • Rotherwas Chapel
  • St Augustines Abbey
  • Wall Roman Site

The following 15 monuments have reduced opening hours:

  • Ashby de la Zouche Castle
  • Banqueting House
  • Bolsover Castle
  • Boscobel House
  • Goodrich Castle
  • Haughmond Abbey
  • Kirby Hall
  • Lullingstone Roman Villa
  • Old Wardour Castle
  • Pendennis Castle
  • Rushton Lodge
  • Sherborne Castle
  • Totnes Castle
  • Wenlock Priory
  • Westminster Chapter House

Two other monuments are now only to be opened in the summer season, that is from April to September:

  • Denny Abbey
  • Upnor Castle

Authority has now been given for the recruitment of sufficient custodians to enable the monuments which are closed or experiencing restricted opening hours to revert to normal opening from 1st April 1981.

(3) None.

(4) The department issues a press notice in advance of the closure of a monument whenever possible;

(5)(a) 713

(b) 586