English Heritage and Historical Association Local Heritage Project


By Melanie Jones, published 22nd October 2012

One year ago (2011), the south eastern branch of English Heritage and the Historical Association came together to see what we could do better in partnership. The outcome was the Local Heritage Partnership Project. The vision was to work together to provide access to and inspiration to carry out local heritage projects making the most of the built heritage environment.

We decided that the focus of our project should be the built heritage around us and that Canterbury was a rich area within the south-eastern region to explore this, being that Canterbury boasts not only a large cathedral, several ancient churches, city walls, a Norman castle, but also the ruined St. Augustine's Abbey - a property cared for by English Heritage.

We invited local schools and heritage organisations to become partners and a meeting was arranged. We were lucky enough to gain 4 local partner secondary schools and support from Canterbury Archaeological Trust, Canterbury Cathedral Education and Libraries and Canterbury Christ Church University. One disappointment was that this time we were unable to gain any primary school partners, although we hope that as word of the partnership project spreads, we may be able to attract primary partners in future projects.

It was decided that each partner school would carry out its own local heritage project with support from English Heritage and the Historical Association. The results of these projects would be shared at a celebration day to which local teachers and pupils would be invited. In addition, the day would also include an expert led CPD session as well as local heritage sessions for students. This would be coupled with the launch of an online CPD unit.

English Heritage were to provide free visits to their property, learning resources, loan of equipment, fund provision of professional CPD unit for teachers and local heritage teaching sessions and catering for students on the celebration event day, plus the support of south-eastern regional education manager Fran Lashmar. In addition, the Historical Association was able to provide support for the project in the manner of dissemination and links to knowledgeable local historians as well as the local Canterbury branch of the Association  providing funding for all 4 participating schools to receive prizes for their work through a bid put together for the Arts Council.

The Historical Association recommended Andrew Wrenn to write a local heritage online CPD unit which English Heritage sponsored. The unit was launched on June 27th 2012. You can view it here  

Historical Association president Professor Jackie Eales, based at Canterbury Christ Church University also worked to secure a venue at the university for the celebration day which also took place on June 27th and as well as dissemination of the project through Historical Association networks, Mary Woolley, history PGCE tutor at Canterbury Christ Church disseminated information to PGCE students and mentors about the project and the celebration day.

Partner schools carried out four different projects based around Canterbury's local heritage.

  1. Kent College chose to focus on St. Martins' Church and St. Augustine's Abbey with year 7 pupils. Pupils took part in learning walks and benefitted from historical experts at St. Martin's Church to produce an interesting presentation. Pupils from the school presented their work at the celebration day complete with a role-play. 
  2. Simon Langton Girls' School chose to concentrate on Canterbury Castle with year 7 pupils Canterbury Castle is a Norman castle that is now a ruin. The castle is free to visit, but does not at present have any kind of tourist information leaflet. To design one therefore formed the project idea for Simon Langton Girls School. Canterbury Museum agreed to provide high resolution images of the castle and to distribute copies of the winning leaflet. The school gave the project a competition feel. You can read the pupil project briefing as an attachment below. The winning piece of work would go on to become a professionally printed leaflet given out to the public. English Heritage funded the printing costs. The pupils that designed the winning leaflet presented their work at the celebration event and spoke about the project. The winning leaflet was printed and will be distributed by Canterbury Museum. You can view a copy of the winning leaflet as an attachment below
  3. Canterbury High School decided that their teaching of the Reformation would be a suitable back drop for this project. They decided that they would look at how/why St. Augustine's Abbey changed using the Reformation story. The plan was to perform and record a dramatization using the ruined abbey as the stage and inviting parents, carers and other community members. Unfortunately due to changes within the structure of the department, the project had to be completed much more quickly than originally planned and there was not time to carry out the original plan in its original form although the school site provided a suitable plan B as a backdrop and pupils thoroughly enjoyed taking part. You can view the powerpoint that set the context for the project as an attachment below
  4. Simon Langton Boys School worked on a project with a year 7 history class. They chose to create an interactive map of Canterbury. Pupils went out on local visits to explore different aspects of the local built heritage. They were armed with flip cameras in order to record interviews, pictures and observations. These were added to with write ups of specific places. As part of this project, students were encouraged to explore the concept of historical significance, which played a part in both the work carried out, as well as the formation of the final product.  Pupils' work was then selected and embedded into a map of Canterbury to make an interactive exploration of the significance of the local built heritage. The map was presented at the celebration event with examples of embedded work shown. You can view the results of the project here and a powerpoint presentation to set up the project as an attachment below.


This is what Simon Langton Boys School had to say about the local heritage project:

"This project gave our pupils a fantastic opportunity to explore not only an important and often underplayed historical concept, but rather significantly, their own local history too. Living and working in a medieval city whilst studying medieval history in Year 7 seemed like a perfect combination. Who would want to waste such a city littered with history? We already taught local history via a series of extended lessons off curriculum throughout the year, but working with English Heritage and the HA gave us the boost needed to create a truly unique project. We decided it should be centered around the high street; a more than familiar location to all. Every pupil involved thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have had their understanding of local significance boosted considerably as a result. They now understand that it is not enough to just listen to the teacher at the front saying how 'important' this and that place is, but challenge and investigate themselves what is really 'historically significant' to them. The local high street might look a bit more important to them now, rather than just being next weekend's meeting point!" Mr Dean Evans

The celebration day on June 27th was attended by a mixture of participating partner schools and their pupils, local teachers and PGCE students. Once each school had presented their project, those pupils who attended split off to receive 2 hands on heritage workshop sessions provided by Canterbury Archaeological Trust and Canterbury Cathedral Archive, whilst teachers and trainees received a local heritage professional development session led by Andrew Wrenn.

It was a fantastic day and very satisfying to see some great projects in action and so many teachers taking ideas away with them making the most of what they have around them in their local environment   to enhance history teaching and learning.

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