This is a piece of old news from 2010 from the page on culture 24
A Basingstoke mansion, which was the largest private home in England in the 17th century before being destroyed in a bloody siege by Oliver Cromwell, will become a permanent museum in a multi-million pound development.
Basing House has been given a further £50,000 towards the exhibition in The Lodge, showcasing relics found in archaeological investigations around the site including clay pipes, a decorated ivory cup from West Africa, pistol shot fragments and hefty cannonballs.
It follows a grant of more than £1 million from the HLF towards the re-launch of the grounds as Basing House History Park last December, a project aiming to bring the House’s tumultuous Tudor and Stuart past to life.
“The grant from the HLF provides an opportunity to put many more of the finds on display to help tell the story of this fascinating site,” said Alastair Penfold, Head of Service at Hampshire County Museums and Archives Service, praising the generosity of local group the Friends of Basing House.
Head of HLF South East England Michelle Davies added that the scheme would help visitors to gain “a much clearer understanding” of the “scale and importance of this once-great house.”
The news is overdue relief for a building which has suffered repeated attacks. A Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, Basing House had survived two sieges by August 1645, when Cromwell himself took charge in an onslaught which killed more than 100 defenders. Parliament later ordered the ruins of the burnt and ransacked House to be razed to the ground.
This sounds like a good news story? Well only up to a point. Until a few years ago Basing House was a museum run by Hampshire Council, with knowledgeable curators living on site who cared about the siege, as well as excellent hosts and guides. Their jobs were cut with the pressure on the public sector. Compared to the £1m spend on the grounds, £50,000 isn’t a lot for a battlefield interpretation centre
This is a tale of modern British heritage funding. The Heritage Lottery fund is the only game in town, It is the largest benefactor to the heritage sector disbursing £250m a year while funding from public sector through English Heritage and Local government has been cut back and funding for humanities and social science research has been greatly reduced. The HLF funding critera are based on outcomes for heritage preservation, communities and participants in the projects. Arguably these are a fair way to apportion resources between the competing bids for funding for a range of calls for funding.
But there are consequences of this pre-eminence of the HLF. The HLF funds “projects”, not core resources, with a focus on matched funding and resources from, volunteers rather than paid staff. The result is fewer tenured posts and more hand to mouth projects staffed by contractors working to the HLF standard rates which impose a ceiling for pay in the sector, substantially below those that apply to commercial business.
The HLF critera are weighted towards projects which engage a large number of participants. Projects needing expertise such as battlefield archaeology fare badly. The funding for Basing House appears to display finds discovered by early archaeological work, not funding research itself. HLF will help to display what professional archaologists have found, but will do nothing to uncover other battlefields that may lie below the soil.
This is short sighted. Advances in battlefield archaeology has made it possible to discover a lot more about the past. British universities produce good battlefield archaeologists and military historians. Yet the funding is all geared towards projects which preserve buildings or inform and educate en mass.
Tourism is Britian;s second ;largest export industry, and heritage is our principle asset. The Visit Britian plan is to increase revenue from tourism. This implies developing new destinations. The response to the discovery of the Boswth battlefield and then Richard III’s body shows the interest in old battles and battlefields.
It is crazy that the investment in new heritage assets is funded in such a haphazard way. What other key industry is funded by charity handouts from the proceeds of a public lottery? Which other key sector expects investments of funding to be matched by the time of volunteers from the big society?
British Battlefields is a voice to campaign for proper funding for the Battlefield and military heritage which attracts visitors.