UK news in brief: From conserving shells in Devon to a national blue plaque scheme

Conserving more than 26,000 shells in Devon

For the past year, staff from the National Trust have been working to conserve the tens of thousands of marine materials – including shells, bones, coral, and starfish – that decorate the interior of the Shell Gallery at A la Ronde, a 16-sided Georgian house near Exmouth in Devon, built by cousins Jane and Mary Parminter. 

The conservation work was carried out by hand, with each shell or bone carefully brushed to remove dirt and then reattached with traditionally prepared plaster and adhesives. The work has allowed researchers to learn more about how the Gallery was built and decorated.

Photo: National Trust, Paul Harris

Youth projects to explore forgotten local histories

Eleven youth-led projects from the north of England have received funding from Historic England through the History in the Making programme to uncover previously overlooked local stories. Some of the funded projects include exploring Roman-era multiculturalism along Hadrian’s Wall and Blackpool’s historic connections to tourism, as well   as Sunderland’s musical past. 

Commenting on the projects, Ellen Harrison, Head of Creative Programmes and Campaigns at Historic England, said: ‘These History in the Making grants really show the breadth of what heritage can mean to different communities and the range of creative ways we can form connections to our local heritage These projects will improve young people’s   well-being by encouraging a sense of pride in their local place and enabling them to gain new skills and confidence.’

National blue plaque scheme

The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport has announced that, following in the footsteps of the London blue plaques – which celebrate people throughout history who have made important contributions to society – the scheme will be extended across England. It will be led by Historic England, who are currently recruiting advisors.  

Lord Parkinson, Arts and Heritage Minister, said: ‘London’s blue plaques are world-renowned. For over 150 years they have helped to celebrate the rich and diverse heritage of our capital city and the people who have passed through it. But people everywhere should be able to celebrate the figures who have shaped their community – which is why we are seeking to extend this opportunity across the country, to allow people and buildings from anywhere in England to be nominated.’