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'Most romantic site' Tintagel Castle faces winter weekday closure

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: February 16, 2011

'Most romantic site' Tintagel Castle faces winter weekday closure
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STAFF at a North Cornwall visitor attraction have been left heartbroken after being told on Valentine's Day that it was to reduce its opening hours.

Tintagel Castle, the most visited site in Cornwall, is to be closed on winter weekdays from the end of the coming season.

Shocked staff were told the news on Monday, Valentine's Day, the very day that English Heritage advertised that facebook fans had voted it as their most romantic site in Britain.

Staff were said to be distressed, particularly after winning awards for their outstanding customer service.

The castle and its links with the legend of King Arthur draws almost 200,000 visitors a year, many of them from overseas, particularly America.

Over 100 people visited the site on Monday, the day that Alex Page, the assistant visitor operations director travelled down from Birmingham to tell staff of the winter closure plans.

English Heritage told the Cornish Guardian that they were in consultations but that they propose that the 62 properties, including Tintagel Castle, which are currently open between November and March, would open only at the weekends (with the exception of Stonehenge and Kenwood House in north London).

The news, which almost certainly will involve redundancy for some of the 30 full or part-time staff, has also shocked businesses in the tourism-centred village.

Roger Wickett, the chairman of Tintagel Parish Council, said it would have a big effect on the community.

"We understand it is a national decision, but you only have to look at the village today to see that there are a lot of people around.

"It will have an impact on the local economy and affect many people in the village. We will make representations to English Heritage about our disappointment and hope that they can remain open, even if it means a smaller staff on winter weekdays.

Representations

"People come to see the castle all year, especially in the early spring. We don't have a meeting until the first Wednesday in March, but I'm sure the parish council will back me on making representations to English Heritage."

Many of the staff are represented by the Commercial and Public Services Union who said English Heritage had been hit by a massive cut in the grant it gets from Government.

It said there would be a three-month consultation before redundancies but warned "the chance of overturning the decision is low".

The union advised: "Concerted public pressure, political intervention and the activities of local tourist boards is more likely to be successful."

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    Desmond, Cornwall  |  February 17 2011, 9:59AM

    Thoughtful, Truro, hits the nail on the head and is extremely informative. As for Kyt, St Austell: Well, he needs to get his head out of his Cornish bottom. Does he really believe that English Heritage (yes, Cornwall is part of England and most want it to remain so) has been obliged to make cuts just in Cornwall? Of course not, and if he bothered to do his research would discover they have made cuts elsewhere - some more severe - but, don't let that get in the way of the truth or Cornish fanaticism!

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    Thoughtful, Truro  |  February 17 2011, 9:34AM

    There is no evidence at all of this original settlement which was built by the Cornish before even the concept of England existed. The Ravenna Cosmography mentions a site which may be in that area, however it gives no further information. There has been a great deal of speculation, mainly by those attempting to create a ¿Cornish Mythos¿ about the site, but none of it has any factual evidence to support it. However there is plenty of factual hard evidence of Roman occupation, including Romano-British pottery and a Roman drawstring leather purse containing ten low denomination Roman coins, dating from the reign of Tetricus. Evidence of a wooden structure does not mean evidence of anything other than there was once a wooden structure there. But as I say, most visitors, if not all, visit to see the castle remains there which, was built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Richard was born at Winchester Castle, the second son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême. He was made High Sheriff of Berkshire. At the age of sixteen, his brother King Henry 3 rd gave him Cornwall as a birthday present. Also people visit due to the Arthurian legends which link to Tintagel, and come from the twelfth century text, the Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), written circa 1135-38 by the Welshman Geoffrey of Monmouth. People will continue to visit to see Richard, Earl of Cornwall¿s castle, and the Arthur link will always be a draw. I cannot see the invisible unproven links with people who may have been, or may not have been in some way, ¿Cornish¿ as a draw at all. It¿s best left to a countrywide organisation such as English heritage to run this site, a purely local one, under the auspices of Cornwall County Council, would be underfunded and under staffed due to Cornwall¿s low financial status.

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    Kyt, St Austell  |  February 17 2011, 1:49AM

    And I quote - "As the original settlement was built by the Cornish before even the concept of England existed.....". There was never any Roman occupation per see - but it was a busy trading post - the occupants were Britains not Romans. However there was evidence of an earlier settlement and artefacts dating from around 400 - 200 BC. Evidence suggests an even earlier settlement built from wooden framed structures but due to the destructive nature of archaeology they have no plans to excavate further. The current structure is built on an older one, The Ravenna Cosmography (approx 700 AD) mentioned a walled settlement occupied by the Cornovii - that settlement is now known as Tintagel - which was named Tre war Venydh long before English was ever spoken. Perhaps a Cornish institution would be better placed to look after this heritage sit, then this simple but amazing bit of 'Cornish' history would be better known by one and all. Kyt.

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    Thoughtful, Truro  |  February 16 2011, 8:25PM

    The castle remain on Tintagel, which is what most visitors, if not all, visit to see, was built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Richard was born at Winchester Castle, the second son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême. He was made High Sheriff of Berkshire. At the age of sixteen, his brother King Henry 3 rd gave him Cornwall as a birthday present. There is also evidence of Roman occupation at the site. These cuts, as with the loss of county council jobs, are due to the present economic climate.

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    Thoughtful, Truro  |  February 16 2011, 8:23PM

    The castle remain on Tintagel, which is what most visitors, if not all, visit to see, was built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Richard was born at Winchester Castle, the second son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême. He was made High Sheriff of Berkshire. At the age of sixteen, his brother King Henry 3 rd gave him Cornwall as a birthday present. There is also evidence of Roman occupation at the site. These cuts, as with the loss of county council jobs, are due to the present economic climate.

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    J, Cornwall  |  February 16 2011, 12:04PM

    Another reason for a Cornish based heritage organisation to care for the site!

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    Kyt, St Austell  |  February 16 2011, 11:02AM

    Good luck Tintagel (Tre war Venydh), but remember this is the work of English heritage. As the original settlement was built by the Cornish before even the concept of England existed, its no wonder they dont care. Perhaps its time to hand it over to Cornish heritage? Kyt.

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