English Heritage accused of meddling in scheme to create purpose-built display space at city museum
A new row has broken out over the Staffordshire Hoard – around 1,000 years after the treasure trove was buried in the Midland soil.
English Heritage was accused of meddling in plans to create a purpose-built space at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to display the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found.
City conservation chiefs said they “resented” the organisation’s alleged attempt to “supervise” the project, which has won a £700,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
But English Heritage insisted it had simply asked for extra information about the scheme.
The chairman of Birmingham’s conservation panel, Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood) said: “This is fantastic for the city, a newly-refurbished gallery with the Staffordshire Hoard on display.
“We proved we can do this, we do not need English Heritage to supervise us.
“I can’t see the slightest problem and I resent a little English Heritage’s attitude that only they know best.”
Coun Peter Douglas Osborn (Con, Weoley) added: “They have a bureaucratic way of doing things.
“On this occasion they have over-stepped the mark – they are trying to provide advice in a way which is not wanted and not warranted.”
Birmingham Museums Trust is behind the plan to create a permanent exhibition presenting 300 items from the Hoard and telling the story of Anglo-Saxon Britain.
The collection was dug up by metal detection enthusiast Terry Herbert in farmer Fred Johnson’s field at Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in July 2009.
It was bought by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent councils after being valued at more than £3.2 million and work to adapt a gallery at the museum is due to start next month.
But planning committee members said English Heritage’s intervention meant the scheme would now need to be rubber-stamped by the Government.
An English Heritage spokeswoman sought to defuse the row, which centred on a paint analysis to ensure any new decoration was in keeping with a “fine historic listed building of the highest quality”.
He said: “In October 2013, when the application was first made, we requested more information about the history of the decorative schemes following a site meeting.
The final piece of information we were awaiting has now been supplied in the form of a report and this has resolved the matter as far as we are concerned.”