Winchester Heritage Open Days - TrustNews Sept 17
Some Trust members will recall that last September Heritage Open Days Patron, Dr Loyd Grossman, paid a special visit to Winchester on the eve of the festival to share his views on heritage in an interview at the Guildhall.
Dr Grossman is no stranger to the heritage scene, as a quick glance at his list of credentials will show you. Appointed CBE in recognition of his services to Heritage in 2015, he is currently Chairman of the Heritage Alliance, Chairman of the Royal Parks and President of NADFAS, and his former posts include Commissioner of English Heritage, Commissioner of the Museums and Galleries Commission and Chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust, amongst others.
As well as answering questions on his earlier life and career, Dr Grossman also reflected on some of the challenges facing the heritage sector today and why we should be careful not to become complacent. Although he reassured us that here in Britain we are generally very good at preserving our heritage, in contrast perhaps to Italy and elsewhere in Europe, he cited widespread cuts in UK public funding as a major threat to its future by saying, “Those of us who love heritage go to war every day." Explaining that heritage can sometimes be viewed as a liability by local authorities he said, “Heritage is an asset, it’s not a liability” and added, “Everything we do and do well is somehow diffused with the heritage - but it is more difficult to get this across at local authority level."
Winchester, he said, is particularly asset rich, akin to a “Siena of the South of England." What puzzled him was why its heritage was not being exploited here more vigorously, especially as tourism is now the fifth largest industry in the UK. “Tourists come here (UK) because of the heritage."
Dr Grossman described Heritage Open Days as an exercise in public consciousness. “Heritage Open Days says ‘let’s open the doors’. You can't love and protect something unless you know about it." He was also referring to ‘Treasure Your Treasures’, the theme for last year's festival which called on communities to champion their local heritage and to share and celebrate the ‘treasures’ they cared about, be it a building, person, special collection or object.
This year's theme, ‘All Our Stories’, focuses on hidden stories and historical secrets about our community, buildings and past, all of which can be shared and celebrated and passed down to the next generation. Heritage has been described as the thread that connects us to the past but, more importantly, it is the thread that connects us to the future. I do hope you will be able to support this year's festival and find time to come to some of the events taking place. It really is a wonderful opportunity to see local gems, some that have been forgotten or overlooked and to be part of a national celebration of our heritage.This year’s Heritage Open Days run from 7-10 September. All events are free but some have limited capacity so will need to be booked in advance. Programmes are available from the Winchester Tourist Information Centre but for up to date information on all events please visit vwvw.WinchesterHeritageOpenDays.org.