Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Heritage Spotlight : Pride of Place

The national organisation which protects England’s architectural heritage, Historic England, is leading a project which aims to create a comprehensive map of the places linked to the lgbt community and its heritage. The first of their goals they wish to achieve is “to identify, document, and increase awareness of the significance of LGBTQ histories and heritage in relation to England’s buildings and landscapes.”

This has been my aim in my “City Pride” series where, so far, I have looked at places of lgbt heritage in Toronto, Tel Aviv, Dublin, Riga and my own Nottingham (there’s a look at another city next week). And, of course, my guided tours around the city centre have the same goal.

Three days ago I gave a tour to a group of lgbt youngsters, many of whom may be going to attend their first Nottinghamshire Pride next weekend. I’d like to think that they remembered some of what I told them and that they realise there was an lgbt presence in the city before Pride was created.

Back to the Historic England project, which is called “Pride of Place”. They already have an interactive map on their website with a few of the more well-known lgbt locations. Among them is Reading Gaol where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned, and Shibden Hall, the home of “the first modern lesbian” Anne Lister. The map already has 200 locations and they’d like us, the public, to put more locations on the map.

Even if you don’t live in the UK I’m sure Historic England will be only too pleased to have your input as well. Perhaps there’s a famous lgbt person from your own country who lived in the UK at some time in the past, or even attended university here.

An inclusion and diversity officer at Historic England, Rosie Sherrington, has said that there aren’t any buildings specifically protected by law because of their lgbt connection. There are a few homes of famous lgbt people that are privately financed museums or of charitable status, but that doesn’t protect them from being turned into something else or demolished in the future. Rosie hopes that the government will being giving official listed protection to buildings of lgbt significance soon.

One of the other aims of the project is to identify which of the thousands of buildings already listed and protected have played major roles in shaping the lgbt community. Ones that are could have their official listings amended to include their lgbt heritage.

The Pride of Place project is being put together for Historic England by a group of academics based at the Leeds Beckett University’s Centre for Culture and the Arts.
The Gatehouse of Nottingham Castle,
the royal estate that has had 3 lgbt Constables
between 1310 and 1628.
Photo copyright Tony Scupham-Bilton

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