2023 Annual Lecture: ‘Fake Heritage’ by John Darlington

  • 06 December 2023
  • Alan Baxter Gallery, 70-77 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6EL
  • 18:00 - 20:30

Join us for the Historic Buildings & Places 2023 Annual Lecture on 6 December at 6pm. We will be announcing the winner of the 2023 Stephen Croad Prize as well as welcoming our guest lecturer John Darlington. We will be hosting our annual lecture in person at the Alan Baxter Gallery or online via Zoom.


Welcome to the world of mock ruins, sham castles and false Adams.

Welcome to a mirage of walls, ceilings and entire towns, a place where buildings are but a single course deep and ancient monuments are seeded to give them the patina of age. From the 50 replica Eiffel Towers located around the world to Saddam Hussein’s reconstructions of ancient cities, examples of forged or reconstructed heritage are widespread. Some, like the Piltdown Man, are easy to dismiss as blatant frauds, while others, like the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee are a result of honest copying or respectful homage.

Why do we emulate, copy or fake heritage? Why build a ruined castle, lay out a pretend town, or assemble our early ancestors from a jabberwocky of animal parts? In this talk, John Darlington explores the reasons for physically reconstructing or falsifying the past. He will be drawing from his 2020 publication ‘Fake Heritage: Why We Rebuild Monuments’, which was featured in the book reviews in the 2022 ‘Journal of Historic Buildings & Places, Vol 01’.

John is currently the Director of Projects at World Monuments Fund Britain (WMF). Prior to joining WMF, he led projects for the UK’s National Trust focused on historic mansions, gardens and landscapes across North West England. He is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, and a Professor of Practice at the University of Wales Trinity St David. John is also the author of over 50 publications, and a regular contributor to The Art Newspaper and other journals.

In addition to the lecture, we will be congratulating the winner of the 2023 Stephen Croad Prize and will invite them to speak about their winning essay.

The Annual Lecture can be attended either in person at the Alan Baxter Gallery or online only.

If attending in person, the entrance to The Gallery is at the far end of the courtyard at 77 Cowcross Street. We’ll be starting at 6pm with a wine reception. Online attendees will join at 7pm.

Cancellation policy: Refunds can be provided for cancellations 7 or more business days prior to the event.

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