The title certainly sounds harsh but it in no way truly reflects the embarrassment felt when trying to explain to a film crew whom work for a major television network in Belgium that the English Heritage unfortunately could not arrange a drunken stag night in a brewery, yes I chose a version of this phrase with out the strong language.
Growing up in the UK makes me proud of our heritage, our iconic sights, beautiful pubs, manors and castles. Understandably those which are privately owned can only be marvelled from a distance but those which are public I believe should be there for us all to enjoy and help promote throughout the world, it seems the English Heritage maybe don’t agree. When searching for the English Heritage you will find the following in Google:
English Heritage exists to protect and promote England’s spectacular historic environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood.
SJBowers contacted the English Heritage on behalf of RTBF TV, a major public television station in Belgium which is their equivalent to our BBC. We were looking to film at Conisbrough Castle for a paranormal documentary, they were looking for ghost stories and everybody loves a good ghost story, especially at a castle. We were told to call the Press office and so we did, we then got told to ring another number for Film locations. Success, they inform our company that we need to provide a proposal and a copy of the stations public liability insurance and so we waste a large proportion of time fulfilling their request and upon submission we hear nothing back and so we call to check up on what is happening only to then be told they do not deal with this Castle and it was in fact the Ivanhoe Trust they provided us with a number which was wrong, we found another number which did not work and so resorted to visiting the Castle. The staff at the castle then inform us that Film Locations are incorrect and have it wrong, they should indeed take care of any filming requirements for the Conisbrough Castle as they have done for the past three years since it was passed to them from the Ivanhoe Trust, yes you read right, three years and they have not been aware!! The process then starts again, we contact them and are informed to submit the proposal again.
We are now on the Thursday, the day we had hoped to film, we called Film Locations only to be confronted with the question “Why did you leave it so late?” in a rather rude and untoward tone. Later we are told it is now too late and they would not be able to entertain our request on that day. We asked about filming on the Sat only to be told to submit the proposal again but moments later informed it was still not possible. We appreciate time was short as it was, but giving us the run around and wasting our valuable time did nothing to help the matter!
We at least received a apology from Film Locations (shortened):
I’m afraid we were given poor information about the site by an English
Heritage rep who was, I’m afraid, unaware of a management change at the
I apologise for time it’s taken today to reach a conclusion on your enquiry.
RTBF TV is a French speaking station with a potential reach of 4 million viewers and an average viewership of 350,000 to 500,000. This documentary also has a potential to air in France where people love paranormal related topics. Imagine the potential to increase tourism to Yorkshire and all the monuments, beautiful buildings and locations featured in this documentary. Imagine the potential it has to increase revenue to local businesses in a time of need and desperation where people are constantly being laid off work. The potential boost to our economy could be great.
Over the years I have personally brought thousands of tourists into English Heritage properties around the UK in addition to the occasional film crew at other historic location. Now I start to question, really should I be pushing business to charity which I feel is failing the British people, is this not our history? Is this not our Heritage? The English Heritage is there to protect and promote. I feel by preventing a documentary with a huge potential vewiership they are not protecting the castles ability create a sustainable income which can be used in preserving the site for years to come. They are not promoting the castle to the best of their ability and finally they are not protecting the jobs of those whom work at the castle. This is not just a disservice to my company but a disservice to their own staff whom work incredibly hard ensure the castle can be enjoyed by all!
We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to Ian Downs who manages the site of Pontefract Castle for helping us out at such short notice. If anyone is visiting Yorkshire and gets a chance they should pop in, although it is rather derelict, the site and remaining walls are beautiful as are all castles. They also have a rather eerie cellar area where the civil war prisoners were kept, its said there are ghostly sightings down there. You can see where etchings were made in the walls which supposedly date back, however they would not have had the tools required and so only the things on person could have been used….
We would also like to thank Eddy from Warmsworth Hall, near Doncaster as well as the Holiday Inn for being such a great company to work with, they bent over backwards to make this a truly exceptional experience. They also host paranormal events if you or your group is interested in visiting.
Other locations doing our country proud are the Golden Fleece (York), Guy Fawkes Pub (York), numerous shops up and down the Shambles (York), Fire and Police Museum (Sheffield), Travellers Rest (Mexbourough).
I should imagine after they read my article and review here that they would wish no further contact with myself however if I am entirely honest I believe from now on I will no longer bring tourists to Heritage sites nor help promote national treasures under their grip and control. Although this might only represent a few thousand people over a few years, it is still their loss.
Even though the they claimed it was to late now, do you think this could be because the documentary required ghost stories and this was of a paranormal nature?
Do you think the English Heritage should be more open to paranormal events where the location benefits from increased exposure and improved profits which in turn help fund restoration and preservation?
Do you think this makes our country look bad or the Heritage unprofessional?
All we can do is hope that the Conisbrough Castle reverts back to the Ivanhoe Trust, they were much more of a pleasure to deal with and they permitted various other types of events.