Historic literary sites to take Pride of Place
Three Kent buildings with colourful histories have been relisted to mark half a century since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Historic England’s Pride of Place research project is revealing the untold stories of lesbian, gay and bisexual, transgender and queer heritage (LGBTQ).
Sissinghurst Castle and the adjoining Priest’s House are relisted in recognition of their tales of same-sex affairs.
Deborah Williams, Historic England’s Listing Team Leader for the West, said: “There’s a gap in England’s rich and colourful history when it comes to recording our LGBTQ heritage.
“So we want to share the untold stories of these buildings and places.”
Sissinghurst Castle was purchased in 1930 by poet and novelist Vita Sackville-West, who lived there with her husband Harold Nicolson. They both had numerous same-sex affairs throughout their married life, including Sackville-West’s romance in the 1920s with writer Virginia Woolf.
The Priest’s House in Small Hythe, near Tenterden and Cranbrook, was home to theatre producer Edith Craig from 1899. She lived there in a ménage à trois with female partners Christabel Marshall (or Chris St John) and Clare ‘Tony’ Atwood.
They were regularly visited by other women who had same-sex relationships, including Woolf, Sackville-West and Radclyffe Hall.
Ingress Abbey, in Greenhithe, has also been relisted, along with more than a dozen others across the UK – marking 50 years since homosexuality was partially decriminalised.
Mrs Williams added: “These buildings have a rightful place in our nation’s history. Anybody can now get a glimpse into the lives of the remarkable people who lived, worked in and visited them.
“They can also better understand their achievements and the challenges they faced decades and even centuries ago.
“Many of the places listed were homes and safe havens for people in the LGBTQ community, making it all the more important that they are recognised on the National Heritage List for England.”
sissinghurst Castle Gardens, left, and Priest’s House, middle, homes of Vita sackville-west, right, and now relisted