The online resource for the historic environment

2.09 Conclusion

“...a historic building cannot be protected... without a thorough understanding of what it is that is important and why." BS 7913: 2013 para 5.5

Studying the material contained within this Unit and reading from the essential, recommended and further reading lists should have challenged your understanding of what aesthetic value means and how to evaluate it. You should be able to respond appropriately to your institute’s requests for provision of a portfolio of information, prepared by you individually, and submitted in support of your application for accreditation as a conservation practitioner.

This Unit has sought to encourage you to think about what aesthetic value means, what factors may influence value and how it may be assessed. You should also have been encouraged to seek additional clarification of aesthetic value from other recommended sources and, in so doing, stimulated your need to research and extend your knowledge.

In that process you should have gained a better understanding of the importance of aesthetic value, its assessment and status in the process of pre-intervention planning and how it underpins many other factors influencing the conservation/intervention process.

The historic environment offers to society a constant datum from which history may be recognised and from which society continually reinforces its identity through reference – a sense of place. It is vital that that reference source is not violated by inappropriate intervention that accepts little influence from the recognised philosophical structure that underpins conservation ethics and principles. This unit seeks to encourage you to understand that fact and how you, as a conservation practitioner, are responsible to the wider society when contemplating intervention works to the historic environment. This unit and its associated units offer a framework to ensure that your actions do not endanger the historic environment, as a resource, by inappropriate and misguided actions.

The guidance offered in this Unit will overlap information in other Units but demonstrates the important status that assessment of aesthetic value has within the process of conservation. The synthesis of this early guidance will be explored in greater depths in the remaining units.

A final thought from William Morris in 1889:

“These old buildings [assets] do not belong to us only…they have belonged to our forefathers and they will belong to our descendants unless we play them false. They are not…our property, to do as we like with. We are only trustees for those that come after us.”
[On the proposed demolition of Northumberland House, London]

A thought to be picked up and incorporated later as a definition of sustainability within the (original) Burra Charter of 1981 - the importance of maintaining assets for the benefit of past, present and future generations.