Last edited 12 Apr 2021

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Institute of Historic Building Conservation Institute / association Website

Cynical vandalism of a deserted medieval village in Withybrook

In 2020, Warwick Crown Court levied costs of more than £160,000 – a total fine of £90,000, costs of £70,000 and victim surcharges of £360 – for the destruction of a historic medieval village in a ‘cynical act of cultural vandalism’ by the convicted when carrying out substantial work on their own land in Withybrook.

Bob Kindred who maintains the national Listed Buildings Prosecutions Database said: "Although the Secretary of State and Historic England are responsible for Scheduled Monuments, the IHBC database includes comparable prosecutions for works to monuments without consent. This latest fine is very substantially above other recent cases we have recorded; reflecting its serious nature, wilful disregard by the site owner and a welcome reminder that irreparable damage of this kind is totally unacceptable. Historic England is to be commended for bringing this case to trial – and note that if the perpetrators do not pay their costs within 6 months a custodial sentence may be imposed."

The Coventry Telegraph wrote:

‘…The family repeatedly ignored warnings and carried on digging up the ground without the required consent, causing irreparable damage to an ancient monument.

They laid a 13ft-wide track and installed a water pipe, troughs and gate posts between 2015 and 2018 so they could graze horses on the land, it is believed.

… The court heard how local residents raised the alarm with Historic England over the damage… The site is home to a 12th century deserted medieval village and its remains survive as shrunken earthworks.

But despite written and verbal warnings from its inspectors and Rugby Borough Council the Macs carried on causing damage to the site.

The ‘deliberate and sustained’ construction of the track damaged and destroyed the recorded medieval earthworks. Historic England said this led to the total loss of an important medieval trackway, or hollow way, and damage to the site of a medieval building.

… Councillor Jill Simpson-Vince, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for growth and investment, said: ‘This cynical act of cultural vandalism has caused irreparable damage to a protected historic site of national importance. The severity of the fines imposed by the Judge sends a clear message to landowners who choose to ignore advice from our planning team and flout the law.’


This article was originally published on the IHBC NewsBlog on 08/02/2020.

--Institute of Historic Building Conservation

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