A unique county-wide survey of our historically most important buildings has uncovered a hit list of structures at risk – and many of them are in South Holland.
The very nature of the district means there are more disused windmills and agricultural buildings here than elsewhere in Lincolnshire, which pushed up the “at risk” figures for Grade II listed buildings to ten per cent.
That contrasts with an average of eight per cent across the county and just one per cent in our neighbouring district, South Kesteven, according to Heritage at Risk senior project officer Dr Matthew Godfrey.
Dr Godfrey led the three-year project to train and recruit volunteers to survey every singe heritage asset throughout Lincolnshire. Hundreds of people signed up to be trained to conduct surveys on Lincolnshire’s 9,128 heritage buildings. They included a small sample of archaeological sites; Grade 1, Grade II Star and Grade II listed buildings; locally listed buildings; conservation areas; parish churches; and parks and gardens.
Of all the categories, the largest number of buildings were Grade II listed – 5,719.
Dr Godfrey explained: “The listed buildings are fairly evenly spread throughout the county. Grade 1 and II star are quire rare anyway, and only take up four per cent of the national total of listed buildings.
“Of the Grade 1 and II star in South Holland, those at risk English Heritage already have in their Heritage at Risk register – Crowland Abbey for example. Grade 1 and II star are monitored by conservation officers as well as English Heritage.
“Grade II, which is by far the biggest percentage, are partly monitored by conservation officers, but there’s a vast number out there we didn’t know much about, hence the reason we instigated this project. They are the ones people live in whereas Grade 1 and II star tend to be churches and buildings like Ayscoughfee Hall in Spalding.”
South Holland has 439 Grade II listed buildings. In some cases, owners didn’t want their property included in the survey, but 424 were successfully surveyed.
Of those, 42 – or ten per cent – are at risk and Dr Godfrey says: “It is a cause for concern, but it’s partly to do with the nature of the district as well. Some of them are former windmills or agricultural buildings. Agricultural buildings are one of the biggest problems we have because when a building goes out of use, what else can you use it for?
“In South Holland we have also got seven or eight domestic properties which are vacant and a vacant building is at risk.
“It is only 42 buildings but it is 42 buildings of local or national importance so they are significant buildings.”