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The South East of England is blessed with a fine collection of heritage locations that champion the proud history of this geographical region of the United Kingdom.

Each of these attractions has been judged to be of outstanding universal value to humanity with important religious, royal and scientific ties making them fascinating places to visit. Areas of natural beauty are subject to a tourism programme strategy aiming to make them more accessible while preserving their unique organic state for future generations. 

Canterbury Cathedral, Kent

Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey and St Martin's Church make up one impressive site that was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1988 as the spiritual head of the Church of England for nearly 500 years. Dating back to the 11th Century, it boasts the richest collection of stained-glass windows in the UK with the most grand in the chapter house.

Steeped in English history and synonymous with Thomas Becket, this magnificent building with awe inspiring architecture offers a warm welcome, the chance to discover 1400 years of history, guided tours, and kids go free until October 2022. Why not join one of the new 15-minute free mini talks given by one of the Cathedrals volunteers which start at quarter past the hour or join the Inside story tour lasting 75 minutes at a cost of £5, 11am or 2pm Monday - Saturday and delve into the history of Canterbury Cathedral, from the re-establishment of Christianity in England in 597, to the murder of Thomas Becket and why this made Canterbury one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the medieval world.

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

This masterpiece of Baroque architecture was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is home to one Europe's historically significant collection of portraits, furniture, sculpture and tapestries. The long library contains more than 10,000 books, many of which are hundreds of years old.

The Formal Gardens and Pleasure Gardens are a joy to behold while the new 'Churchill' exhibition commemorates Blenheim Palace as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Whilst the new 'Stables' exhibition houses in the historic stable block, celebrates the importance of horses to Blenheim Palace throughout the ages. Donating the cost of your entry to the Blenheim Palace Heritage Foundation Charity gets you a free annual pass and guided tours are included as part of admission. 

Hosting a year-round calendar of events including Easter Entertainment (15th - 18th April 22) Blenheim Palace Flower Show (24th - 26th June 2022), Battle Proms Picnic Concert (2nd July 2022), Marlborough 300 Pageant (30th - 31st July 22), Salon Prive and Supercar (4th Sept 2022) and many more, there are lots of reasons to keep heading back and discovering more of this stunning UNESCO site.







DARWIN'S GREENHOUSE - In a letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker of 19 April [1855] (Correspondence vol.5) Darwin said that he did not have a greenhouse. However, this soon changed. An entry in his Classed Account Book (Down House Ms) for 1 February 1856 indicates that he paid £67 to John Strudwick, a builder from Westerham, to build a greenhouse.


The earliest structure in the building sequence for the greenhouse appears to be that at the east end of the present building, although it was reroofed in 1898. Its construction differs from the later work, in that the bricks are laid on edge as rat trap bond. This first greenhouse appears to have been unheated.


The first addition to the greenhouse, built in 1863, was described by Darwin in his correspondence as a 'hothouse.' This new building was explicitly designed for 'experimental purposes' (see Correspondence, vol. 11, letter to Thomas Rivers, 15 January [18631). It was built at the suggestion, and under the superintendence, of John 1-lorwood, gardener to Darwin's neighbour, George Henry Turnbull.' Horwood had charge of the hothouses at his master's house, of which Darwin had 'free use' while preparing his book on orchids in 1861 and 1862.' The hothouse was built in January and February 1863, and cost a total of £5 15s. 3d. The hothouse was built with a raised bed on the south side of the walkway. It was heated by a loop of 4' cast iron pipes set against the side of the bed. Hot water for the pipes was provided by a cast iron jacket set in the exterior face of the south wall. The 4" pipes simply returned through the east end of the raised bed into the back of the jacket. It was a sealed system without a header tank. The
water circulated by convection. There was a drainage tap hole at the bottom of the front of the jacket. In 1997, the tap had been removed. There were small holes in the 4" pipe at the far end of the loop and in the lower pipe where it returned through the bed. These presumably allowed air to escape when the system was filled or topped up. The water jacket probably incorporated a brazierlike front and was fed with coal. It would have been important to prevent the fumes from the jacket from entering the hothouse. 


The date of the construction of the laboratory and the final addition to the greenhouse which appears to have been executed in the same brickwork is not documented. However, the land on which the laboratory was built did not come into Darwin's possession until 1881. This therefore seems to be the most likely date for this last phase of additions. 





Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, Surrey

Set in 326 acres of beautiful grounds containing the world’s most diverse collection of living plants, Kew Gardens became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located just 30 minutes from central London, the garden can trace its roots back to the 18th Century and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as recently as 2003 thanks primarily to the work of renowned landscape architects including Capability Brown. The expansive gardens are fully accessible thanks to a land train with six stops throughout Kew.

Explore tropical rainforests in the Palm House and marvel at the architecture of the restored Temperate House. Discover beautiful botanical art in the wonderful galleries and step back in time at Kew Palace – the former summer residence of King George III. 

Visit The Hive, a fascinating installation highlighting the plight of the honeybee, the Great Broad Walk borders which contain over 30,000 plants, providing stunning colour from spring through autumn, the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse containing Kew's largest plants and a 200m long Treetop Walkway giving outstanding views of the forest canopy with its birds and insects, lichens and fungi. Take a mindful moment with a visit to the Japanese Gardens or explore the vast collection of 14,000 trees in the Arboretum, or let your children loose in the Children's garden especially designed for children from 2 to 12 years old. 

List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Other special sites not to miss that border South East England include the stunning Dorset's Jurassic Coast which stretches 95 miles from Old Harry's Rocks near Swanage to Exmouth in East Devon and was recognised by UNESCO in 2001 for its rocks, fossils and landforms. The historic Maritime Greenwich, home of The Royal Observatory and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), internationally recognised for the world's Prime Meridian Line. Maritime Greenwich became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997 and includes the historic town centre and Royal Park.


The Historic Dockyard Chatham is currently on a tentative list meaning its under consideration to become a World Heritage Site.


UK's transition to electricity


1878 - The first hydro-electric plant in the UK started operating in Cragside, Rothbury, Northumberland, in the Victorian era (1837-1901), powering first an arc lamp, then Joseph Swan's carbon filament lamps. This was not a public supply. Recently restored.


1881 - The UK had the world's first water powered public electricity and street lighting at Godalming, Surrey, powered by a waterwheel installed at the Salgasson mill. Demolished.


1882 The Edison Electric Light Station, was the world's first coal-fired power station generating electricity for public use. It was built at number 57 Holborn Viaduct in central London, by Joseph SwanThomas Edison's 'Edison Electric Light Company.'  Demolished.


1898 - Another site on the South Coast of England, potentially worthy of consideration for future inclusion, is the electricity Generating Station, just outside the Sussex village of Herstmonceux, possibly to include the whole of Lime Park, as estate once owned by Charles de Roemer. This is a time capsule during the transitional stages of horses to automobiles and gas lighting to electric lighting (and public supply). Both transitions taking place within 20 years of the other, after First World War motorization, with the stables becoming redundant in favour of a 1920s Armstrong Sideley limousine. One of the earliest surviving early electrical buildings is a compact rural installation, with advanced features like battery storage, load levelling, and underground 48-56 volt DC cables to power the village. The only surviving example of this is the world, presently undergoing restoration works. As we write, there are no included sites in East or West Sussex.





A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance. The sites are judged to contain "cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity".







Being listed as a World Heritage Site can positively affect the site, its environment, and interactions between them. A listed site gains international recognition and legal protection, and can obtain funds from among others the World Heritage Fund to facilitate its conservation under certain conditions.
UNESCO reckons the restorations of the following four sites among its success stories: Angkor in Cambodia, the Old City of Dubrovnik in Croatia, the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Kraków in Poland, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. Additionally, the local population around a site may benefit from significantly increased tourism revenue. When there are significant interactions between people and the natural environment, these can be recognised as "cultural landscapes".




There are 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories. The UNESCO list contains one designated site in both England and Scotland (the Frontiers of the Roman Empire) plus eighteen exclusively in England, five in Scotland, four in Wales, one in Northern Ireland, and one in each of the overseas territories of Bermuda, Gibraltar, the Pitcairn Islands, and Saint Helena. There is an additional site partly in the UK territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, but is regarded to be part of Cyprus's list. The first sites in the UK to be inscribed on the World Heritage List were Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast; Durham Castle and Cathedral; Ironbridge Gorge; Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey; Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites; and the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd in 1986. The latest sites to be inscribed were The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales and Bath Spa (as a component of the Great Spas of Europe) in July 2021.

The constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (commonly referred to as UNESCO) was ratified in 1946 by 26 countries, including the UK. Its purpose was to provide for the "conservation and protection of the world’s inheritance of books, works of art and monuments of history and science". The UK contributes £130,000 annually to the World Heritage Fund which finances the preservation of sites in developing countries. Some designated properties contain multiple sites that share a common geographical location or cultural heritage.

The United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO advises the British government, which is responsible for maintaining its World Heritage Sites, on policies regarding UNESCO. The UK National Commission for UNESCO conducted research in 2014–15 on the Wider Value of UNESCO to the UK, and found that the UK's World Heritage Sites generated an estimated £85 million from April 2014 to March 2015 through their association with the global network.

World Heritage Site selection criteria i–vi are culturally related, and selection criteria vii–x are the natural criteria. Twenty-three properties are designated as "cultural", four as "natural", and one as "mixed". The breakdown of sites by type was similar to the overall proportions; of the 1,121 sites on the World Heritage List, 77.5% are cultural, 19% are natural, and 3.5% are mixed. St Kilda is the only mixed World Heritage Site in the UK. Originally preserved for its natural habitats alone, the site was expanded in 2005 to include the crofting community that once inhabited the archipelago; the site became one of only 25 mixed sites worldwide. The natural sites are the Dorset and East Devon Coast; Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast; Gough and Inaccessible Islands; and Henderson Island. The rest are cultural.







































A FULLER UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT - Due to the pace of development, sometimes significant gaps exist in the records, as to how man leapfrogged from coal fires, to steam, to electricity, computers and finally the renewable energy age, to combat climate change.








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