English Heritage's conservation work covers 400 locations. Image: English Heritage.
English Heritage's conservation work covers 400 locations. Image: English Heritage.

Going behind the scenes with the conservation experts

3 min


English Heritage to unlock parts of Pendennis Castle to give visitors a glimpse of its hidden work

One of the country’s leading conservation charities will be giving visitors the chance to peak into ‘off limit’ areas so they can gain an insight into how these buildings are constantly conserved and maintained.

Conservation in Action will be taking place at Pendennis Castle on Thursday 14 September. The castle is one of Falmouth’s top tourist attractions and is one of more than 400 national English Heritage locations.

‘Each of our sites are unique in their construction, but with that comes a unique set of challenges when it comes to looking after them,’ explains Martin Roscoe, English Heritage’s Estates’ Manager.

‘That’s why English Heritage needs the expert care of its dedicated Estates Team and specialist contractors who can carry out maintenance using traditional skills and materials.’

‘However, many of these heritage crafts are in decline, so it’s important for us to celebrate these and inspires the next generation to get involved in our sector.’

‘We hope our event at Pendennis does just that, as well as providing an exciting day out in Cornwall.’

Pendennis Castle is one of Henry VIII’s finest seaside fortresses and boasts a keep with panoramic views out to sea, a collection of historic weaponry and an exhibition of wartime tales.

The first major test it faced was during the English Civil War. Falmouth status as a seaport meant it was considered to be strategically important.

The fort became occupied by Royalists. They endured a five month siege by Oliver Cromwell’s forces – before finally surrendering.

Fast forward to Napoleonic times and the castle’s defences were strengthened. A garrison was stationed there to defend the country from any possible attacks by the French.

In more recent times, Pendennis was used as a control centre for strategic defences in World War Two.

Guns and huts were hastily erected as the British quickly built up its responses to the threat posed by Nazi Germany.

Exciting behind-the-scenes glimpse at English Heritage’s conservation work

Visitors will be able to try their hand at lime plastering, making a handmade clay tile and slate cutting. There will also be demonstrations of high-level inspection work using abseiling ropes, intricate clay carving and 3D scanning of Pendennis Castle’s keep.

It will bring together different departments from English Heritage as well as specialist contractors and suppliers.

The team will be able to explain more about its prestigious apprenticeship programmes and all of the hidden gems in the grounds – which can be easily overlooked.

There will be plenty of experts on-hand to chat about what they do, including members of the apprenticeship, management and conservation teams.

They will be working alongside Cornish Lime, Keymer Tiles, Sally Strachey Historic Conservation and Williams and Burrows Heritage Repair. The Conservation in Action day will take place between 10am to 5pm on Thursday 14th September 2023.

This special event at Pendennis Castle comes a month after the news that English Heritage is launching a new apprenticeship programme and the creation of a heritage skills centre in East Anglia, aimed at saving endangered heritage skills and crafts.

The work has been funded by a £11.2m donation from the Hamish Ogston Foundation. It’s the largest in the charity’s history. The charity says it will safeguard the future of 34 flint castles and abbeys in the East of England.

English Heritage is tasked for caring for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites which include Stonehenge and Cornwall’s Tintagel Castle.

For more information: www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/pendennis-castle

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