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English Heritage's Turn . . .

Dear Sir,

I wish to express my deep shock and outrage at the event which took place at the Uffington White Horse this past weekend. I was astounded to discover that not only had the monument been vandalized by an advert for Channel Four’s ‘Big Brother’ programme, but that the National Trust had colluded in this defilement by accepting the sum of £2,000 from the perpetrators.

I should like to remind you of a statement from your press office, issued last year after similar vandalism by the pro-hunt lobby: "We deplore any unauthorised and therefore unlawful interference with the Uffington White Horse, which is a much loved local landmark as well as a nationally important and sensitive site. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and thus protected by law. Although in this instance there has been no damage to the horse itself, the surrounding grassland, which has been painted with white paint, is also part of the monument. The grass has now been strimmed and whilst it appears to have suffered no long-term damage we will be closely monitoring the grassland for signs of any lasting effects. Any unauthorised activity on a Scheduled Ancient Monument could cause damage to fragile and irreplaceable archaeology. The surrounding land is also a site of Special Scientific Interest which receives additional protection in law."

Am I to understand then, that providing people pay yourselves or the National Trust a sum of money – and not necessarily a large amount, apparently – that the above statement no longer applies, and they are free to attach whatever image or slogan they like to national heritage sites? As such, how long will it be before I can drive down the A420 in Oxfordshire, and see ‘Happy 40th Birthday Shirley’ daubed in 50ft high letters over the Uffington White Horse – presuming that ‘Dave’ will have paid the required fee? Somehow, I suspect that you would consider the above slogan entirely inappropriate and unacceptable next to such a monument. Equally, and as bizarre as it may seem to yourselves and the National Trust, I, and many, many people I know find it wholly unacceptable, totally inappropriate, and deeply disturbing that an advert for a cheap, tacky game show should be painted on this revered site.

I am currently in correspondence with the National Trust on this issue, but I should like to know exactly why English Heritage, who are entrusted with the protection of Britain’s ancient heritage for the nation, felt able to allow the National Trust to proceed with such a misguided and deplorable desecration of this fabulous monument. Not only has the country been betrayed by the National Trust, it has been betrayed by yourselves also. I would welcome any explanation you might offer with regard to this matter, and look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully

treaclechops Posted by treaclechops
4th September 2003ce

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