News in brief

National Trust report on colonialism

The National Trust has released their Interim Report on the Connections between Colonialism and Properties now in the Care of the National Trust, including Links with Historic Slavery (read more in ‘Sherds’ on p.64). Commissioned in September of last year, it analyses the history of the 93 historic places in the care of the NT and the ways they are linked with the history of colonialism and slavery.

Dr Tarnya Cooper, Curatorial and Collections Director of the National Trust, said: ‘This is part of caring for our properties in a historically responsible and academically robust way. The work helps us all understand what’s gone before – now and for future generations.’

Saving historic high streets

Historic England has announced a government funding scheme to help historic high streets across England recover from the impact of COVID-19. Called the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme, the £95 million scheme aims to develop and deliver on plans to restore derelict buildings, converting them into new shops, workplaces, and community centres.

Duncan Wilson, the Chief Executive for Historic England, said: ‘Whether it’s a medieval market town, or a post-war city centre, every high street in England has a distinctive history that can be harnessed to help it achieve a prosperous future.’

Blue plaque for Britain’s first female special agent

English Heritage has revealed a blue plaque for Christine Granville – Britain’s first and longest-serving female special agent during the Second World War. Born Krystyna Skarbek in Warsaw in 1908, Granville joined the British Intelligence after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. During the war, she served in Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and the Middle East, and was once called Winston Churchill’s ‘favourite spy’. The plaque has been placed at 1 Lexham Gardens Hotel (previously the Shelbourne Hotel) in Kensington, which was Granville’s base after the war.

PHOTO: English Heritage.

Clare Mulley, the author of Granville’s biography (The Spy Who Loved), said: ‘All too often women in the Resistance are remembered for their beauty and courage, while their achievements are overlooked. Krystyna Skarbek, aka Christine Granville, was one of the most-effective special agents to serve Britain during the Second World War, male or female.’