News in brief

A 13th century Bishop's palace unearthed in Somerset, an aerial tribute to NHS, and a box of mementos donated to English Heritage.

Bishop’s palace unearthed

Part of the foundations of a 13th-century palace – one of a number of residences used by the Bishop of Bath and Wells – have been discovered during the construction of a new bungalow in Wiveliscombe, Somerset.

This is the first concrete evidence for the palace to have been found. Although its general site was known, as part of the gateway remains above ground, its exact location was a mystery until now. Excavation was carried out by the South West Heritage Trust and, after being thoroughly recorded, the site will be preserved before construction can continue.

Aerial NHS tributes

Since the start of the pandemic, the Aerial Investigation team from Historic England, as part of their daily work of mapping important historic sites from the air, have captured dozens of photos of tributes to the NHS all across the country.

photo: Historic England
Photo: Historic England.

Damian Grady, Aerial Reconnaissance Manager for Historic England, said: ‘Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we – like so many others – have had to adapt the way we work. By fixing an automatic vertical camera to each aircraft, our skilled pilots were able to fly solo and capture key sites throughout 2020. Not only was it great to resume some of our normal aerial-reconnaissance duties, it was also a lovely surprise to keep seeing these markings appear across England’s landscape, perfectly summarising the public gratitude towards the NHS.’

These images now form part of Historic England’s Picturing Lockdown Collection, a project that documents the individual experiences of people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative can be found at images-books/archive/collections/photographs/picturing-lockdown/.

A Darwinian donation

A keepsake box that once belonged to Charles Darwin’s daughters was recently donated to English Heritage on the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex.

The red leather box is full of family mementos, including shells that were gathered by Darwin on his famous Beagle voyage, which his daughters later carefully labelled using scrap paper from their father’s draft manuscripts. After conservation, the box will go on display at the Home of Charles Darwin (Down House) in Kent later this year.