Cawood/Cawood Garth

Region: Yorkshire and the Humber

Local Authority: Selby

Year of Intervention: 2003

Summary: English Heritage York office has worked with the residents of Cawood to help develop capacity within the community in order for them to take greater control of the management of the scheduled monument at the centre of the village. The early interest in the scheduled monument has generated additional activities around the village but has also resulted in improved access, interpretation and management on the garth. Other cultural activities include building recording, field-walking, oral history, an annual heritage festival, historical research into numerous periods and fruit tree/orchard surveys.

Description: Cawood is a large village situated between York and Selby which is chiefly notable as one of the residential palaces of the Archbishops of York. The site consists of a castle site, the standing remains of a banqueting house and gatehouse (now used by the Landmark Trust) and an extensive ‘garth’ or garden which contains relict orchards, fishponds and numerous other earthworks dating to the medieval and later periods. The ‘garth’ is used as amenity space by the village although in more recent years it was used as pasture. In order to protect the site and keep it for the community the entire village agreed to an increase in their rates and purchased the site.
Issue: The community in Cawood has wanted to use the Garth for a number of village activities over a number of years, but have been unable to convince EH that this should be allowed. EH approached the village in order to resolve the desire for increased use of the space and a Garth Group was created as a sub-group of the Parish Council. Using the services of a ‘facilitator’ from York University, and a grant from the LHI, the group compiled a Conservation Plan, Management Plan and Research Strategy for the site.
Strategy: EH Yorkshire region decided that the best approach would be to: 1) establish who values the place and why; 2) build the evidence base for the place; 3) propose uses and 4) agree Management Plan. A LHI grant was applied for and won, and this gave the Garth Group the ability to purchase the services of archaeologists who undertook geophysical and earthwork surveys (as well as train those residents who were interested in such activities). Negotiations were held with other agencies to establish the potential for enhancing the flora and fauna and this has resulted in the creation of a wildlife trail and the creation of discrete areas around the garth where rare or vulnerable species can be encouraged – all of which has now become part of the interpretation for the site. The Management Plan has been agreed (to be reviewed every two years) and a Management Agreement between EH and the Parish Council is to be put in place which recognizes the increased responsibility of the Group.
Outcome: The case study illustrates that it is possible to generate good site management and participation at the local level. Partnership working between EH and the community was essential but the involvement of EH was to diminish as the residents became more confident in defining their needs. This also relied on EH accepting that other heritage ‘perspectives’ were legitimate, i.e. that ‘heritage’ is not just about old fabric, but can be about apple trees, sweet shops and memory.


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