Buskers invited into Bath Abbey to perform

Buskers invited into Bath Abbey to perform

Bath Abbey’s relationship with buskers – performing outside in Abbey Churchyard – has sometimes been put to the test over recent years.


A busker in Abbey Courtyard.

Highly amplified music had been blamed in the past for disrupting services and causing unwelcome distraction during concerts.

Bath and North East Somerset Council now has local authority powers to ban loudspeakers being used for performances near the city’s very grand parish church – if it’s deemed too loud.

Agreement has been recently reached for the buskers to ‘self-police’ themselves and now comes a further thaw in relations with their Tudor Perpendicular neighbour with news that some of them will now get to perform to an audience INSIDE the Abbey!Streets of Bath DL Leaflet (dragged)

It’s all part of a special ‘Streets of Bath’ exhibition within the Abbey from April 12th to the 16th.

This will feature artwork from over 30 local amateur and professional artists – which will set out to celebrate the people who work and live on our streets – either by choice or force of circumstances. This will include paintings, drawings, collage, installations, poetry and audio works.

The idea is to provoke thought and conversation about how these people are an integral part of the city and the Abbey will be inviting buskers in to give lunchtime recitals too!

This will happen each day at 12.30 pm and at 1.15 pm there will also be a short talk or demonstration by one of the artists.

Highlights among the exhibits include:

• An audio montage of interviews with people who work on the streets, including a Police Community Support Officer, a Business Improvement District ranger and a Street Pastor.

• A group of children from a creative arts project who are producing a 3D work which looks at the streets of Bath from their perspective.

• Two installations created by the Abbey Missioner that intend to create a visual dialogue between ancient religious memorials and contemporary practice on our streets.

• Artwork from three projects working with people who live on the streets and in recovery.

• A poem, collaboratively created by a writing group, about the streets of Bath.

• In the sanctuary, a very large reproduction called ‘Here We All Are’ by David Cobley, founder of Bath Artists’ Studios and a prominent portrait painter whose works feature in the National Portrait Gallery.

revd stephen girling abbey missioner

Revd Stephen Girling, Bath Abbey Missioner

The Revd Stephen Girling, Bath Abbey Missioner, said “We put out a call to artists and others across the city, for art to help us celebrate and consider those who work and live on our streets.  We’ve selected over 50 works by over 30 artists.

Reflections in the Rain

Reflections in the Rain by Isabel Rossiter. One of the art works on display.

“I am delighted that so many people, amateur and professional, have come forward to offer up their creativity.  I hope that the works will help those who live and work on our streets feel as much valued as everybody else and that visitors will engage in important conversations as we tease out what hospitality looks like in this modern, busy, complex city”.

Members of the press are invited to join us at the Preview Evening on Monday 11th April 2016 at 6.30pm and are asked to r.s.v.p. to kleary@bathabbey.org

Back in April 2013 – https://virtualmuseumofbath.com/2013/04/29/buskers-inside-bath-abbey/ – the Virtual Museum suggested that buskers should be allowed into the church to perform.

The suggestion was for an annual Busker Blessing service which recognised their contribution to street life and allowed some of them to perform. It could have been coupled with acknowledging and praying for the more unfortunate homeless who share those streets.

A collection could have been made for those who help them with food and shelter.

I still think that a good idea. Maybe this will be a first step in the right direction.

You will find more information about the Abbey and exhibition via www.bathabbey.org



Hit and runner damages Laura Place Fountain.

Hit and runner damages Laura Place Fountain.

Oh dear! Got an idea that someone or something has collided with an edge of the Laura Place Fountain.IMG_7520

The ‘ashtray’ – as it is affectionately known – was already looking in a sorry state. The gushing waters it produces have not yet been turned on and one can see how tired and eroded the whole Bath stone structure is.


Laura Place fountain 1910.

Now a whole corner of the basin – which dates back to the original A.S. Goodridge fountain of 1877 – has been knocked off. The central structure – with pouring edges looking like cigarette rests –  was added in 1977.IMG_7519

A couple of years ago the City of Bath College was going to be called in to do masonry repairs. Something went wrong in the negotiations and nothing happened.IMG_7517

A spokesperson for B&NES has told the Virtual Museum:

‘The Laura Place fountain was damaged by a driver who failed to stop after the collision.

We are arranging to reinstate the knocked out block of stone and repair the damaged section imminently.

The Council is working with the Police to identify the vehicle involved and help pursue compensation for the cost of required repairs.

If anyone has any information relating to the incident then please call the Police on 101.’

Time maybe for some CCTV at this point. It would also have helped catch the vandal who killed the sapling planted last year to replace a tree that was felled because of disease.

Does Great Pulteney Street have a residents’ organisation? Does no one keep an eye on what is going on outside?

For a city that doesn’t exactly celebrate (in large fountain form) its mass of waters – hot and cold – this is a disgrace.

Especially as it sits at one end of one of the most celebrated Georgian streets in the world.

Repair it, improve it – or what about something completely different?

What a shower!

What a shower!


Blocked down pipe!

Come on Westgate Street landlords. This road is already one of the most shabby in the city of Bath but blocked gutters and pipes add to the misery on a day of short, sharp but heavy showers.


Rain showering down from a blocked roof gutter!

Student accommodation limit?

Student accommodation limit?

Bath and North East Somerset Council is to consider additional measures to control the growth of student accommodation in Bath – according to a press release from the local Conservative Association.

As part of a review being carried out by the Conservative-run authority, the council is to look at what powers are available to limit the number of new student accommodation blocks in areas with high concentrations of student housing. 


New student accommodation in city centre.

The issue was debated by councillors at a meeting of Bath and North East Somerset Council last Wednesday, 23rd March.  During the debate, Conservative councillors tabled a successful amendment which commits the council to looking at:

whether existing controls on the numbers of HMOs in certain parts of the city should be extended more widely;

what the right limit should be on the proportion of HMOs in any given area; and

whether it is possible for additional measures to be put in place to limit the number of new student accommodation blocks in areas which already have a high density of student housing.

Conservative Councillor Bob Goodman (Combe Down), who is leading the Council’s review of student accommodation and HMOs in the city, said:

“The proliferation of new student accommodation in Bath has become an increasingly important issue for residents of the city, so it’s right that the Council should look at what can be done to better manage the growth and concentration of student accommodation and HMOs in Bath. IMG_7238

“Our universities contribute a huge amount to the city, and it’s important we support them in continuing to be successful. However, we must also ensure that we maintain balanced communities, with the right mix of student accommodation, HMOs and family homes.

“Not all HMOs are student housing, many are also occupied by graduates and workers, so it’s important we take this into account.  The review we are undertaking will therefore look at how to ensure a high standard of accommodation for those who live in HMOs, as well the best way to manage the growth in HMO numbers and student accommodation more generally.”

Government eye on UK museums

Government eye on UK museums

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced today (Wednesday, March 23rd)

that it would be conducting a “wide-ranging” review of museums.

The announcement was included in the publication of the government’s Culture White Paper, the first strategy for arts and culture in more than 50 years.

The review will explore three areas: the national infrastructure for museums in England and how it relates to those in the devolved nations; how DCMS-sponsored museums could work better together and with other museums; and the roles of Arts Council England (ACE) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in supporting local and regional museums.

The review will focus on shared services, storage, digitisation and resilience, and will consider not only the scope for more shared accessible storage facilities but also what can be done to ensure that more objects held in storage in London can be put on display elsewhere.

The review is expected to be completed during the financial year 2016-17. The DCMS also plans to conduct separate reviews into ACE and the HLF.

The white paper’s main focus is on access and place-making, and makes explicit an expectation that “all publicly-funded arts organisations must increase access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds”.

The arts council, Historic England and the national museums and galleries will be expected “to develop and share strategies for tackling the lack of diversity in leadership across the cultural sectors and to provide regular reports on what has been achieved”.


The ‘Rome around Bath museums’ leaflet.

A four-year Cultural Citizens Programme, first announced by the prime minister in January, is designed to give children from across the country opportunities to have cultural experiences, and will be piloted in the North West, North East and West Midlands.

And the Great Place Scheme aims to bring arts and heritage lottery funders together to make culture a core part of local authority plans and policies, supported by ACE, the HLF, and Historic England.

The government will work with ACE to develop new indicators to accurately examine changes in engagement and participation for children from low income backgrounds, by demographics as well as region.

The paper outlines a pilot scheme, to be delivered jointly by ACE and the HLF, that will provide match-funding for cultural organisations that use crowdfunding to raise support. And the commits DCMS to working with partners to “support cultural organisations to diversify their funding, including exploring non-grant sources of income and innovative means of fundraising”.

The review restates the £30m Cultural Protection Fund, first announced in last November’s spending review and managed by the British Council, to support the protection of cultural heritage in global conflict zones overseas. This is accompanied by a commitment to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention, “subject to legislation”.

There are no new funds to accompany the white paper’s aims, many of which will be funded by DCMS arms-length bodies, but culture minister Ed Vaizey used the launch to announce £4m of new funding for the DCMS Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund  (£2m from DCMS to match £2m from the Wolfson Foundation), for renovation and improvement projects in museums and galleries in England, which will be open for bids from April 2016.

“We welcome the emphasis on equality of access for all and the role that culture and museums can play in enhancing health and wellbeing and creating better places to live,” says Sharon Heal, the director of the Museums Association. “We know through our Museums Change Lives campaign that many museums are already working in these areas and delivering real change with communities.

“It’s good that joint working between ACE and the HLF is being encouraged and it would be great to see specific funding streams that support work with communities on health and place initiatives.

“The MA welcomes the review of museums and will work with government to ensure that it is as wide ranging as possible and addresses the challenges and solutions that local museums and their communities need.”

Breathe New Life Into an Old Place – Make It a Heritage Action Zone

Breathe New Life Into an Old Place – Make It a Heritage Action Zone

Heritage England is hoping its can help local communities harness history to encourage sustainable economic development and community life.


On its website ( https://www.historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/heritage-action-zones/breathe-new-life-into-old-places-through-heritage-action-zones/ ) it says: ‘Across England, the ancient and historic parts of our towns and cities are also their social and economic centres. Historic quarters give places their character and individuality – a focus for community pride, a sense of shared history, and a sense of belonging. Research shows that businesses based in older places are more productive than their peers, and well-kept historic places add greatly to cultural life and community resilience.

But there remains untapped potential across the country. Old towns, neighbourhoods and quarters that are rich in industrial, cultural or faith heritage, are often under-valued and under-used. They can become symbols of deprivation and dilapidation rather than regeneration and renewal. Historic England wants to unlock this potential.

Starting in June 2016 we will be seeking historic places that have the potential to become focal points for sustainable economic development and community life. Working with local partners, we will focus our help and resources on these places to bring them to life. We will spread this effort across the country – a Heritage Action Zone can be based in any region.

What makes a Heritage Action Zone

Whether you’re interested in regenerating a wider area such as a place in decline, a whole town, or a conservation area, the Heritage Action Zone approach will harness Historic England’s expertise and resources to help.

To be considered for Heritage Action Zone status an area needs to be of significant historic interest, and able to contribute to the social, economic and environmental needs of a place.

Potential Heritage Action Zones can be:

  • Urban or rural
  • A streetscape, series of buildings or multiple places
  • Include both listed and unlisted sites

What Historic England can offer

These are some of the skills and resources we can provide:

  • Research into historic sites or buildings
  • Help with engaging local communities
  • Grant aid – from Repair Grants to Capacity Building Grants
  • Advice on repairing and finding new uses for a building
  • Advice on planning policy
  • Condition surveys
  • Historic Area Assessments and characterisation reports
  • Help with updating entries on the National Heritage List for England
  • Training in how to assess the significance of historic places
  • Help with identifying places that could be listed
  • Networks and contacts that may bring other key players to the table

Our track record

We have a great deal of experience of working on successful heritage-related regeneration projects, including:

Suitability for Heritage Action Zone status

To apply for Heritage Action Zone status you will need to meet these criteria:

  • Be part of a partnership, which could consist of public, private and third sector organisations
  • At least one local authority must be actively involved in your application
  • Each partner must be committed to delivering sustainable long-term growth in the historic area in question
  • The project should be capable of delivery within three to five years

How to apply

This new initiative will be launched in June 2016, but if you are interested in discussing a potential project, please contact your local Historic England office to discuss your proposal.’

How and when will we decide which projects to take forward?

Selecting potential Heritage Action Zones will be a two stage process.

Stage 1: All applications will be assessed and shortlisted by Historic England’s selection panel.

Stage 2: Shortlisted applicants will then need to develop a full delivery plan jointly with Historic England and any other relevant partners. A start date for the project will also be agreed at this stage.

The first round of projects is expected to begin in April 2017.

If you have any questions about the Heritage Action Zone initiative, please contact us.


Heritage Action Zone