British Heritage: The Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, And The Bristol Bus Station

Like most human endeavours, heritage is elastic and changing. A building, event, and history are created by the outcome of an interaction between people and their place, each with their dreams and desires and their daily needs and surroundings. Heritage, in a way, is the concept of the human mind, whether it is of one person, a family, a community, or a culture, is portrayed through three particular heritage sites in the United Kingdom; the Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, and the Bristol Bus Station. Heritage, recognized as being among the universal resources for tourism, however, also mentions the powerful affinity among the concepts of culture, heritage, and identity.

Heritage is, in fact, a challenging concept to define and can be responded differently. According to Lee and Chhabra, influenced and affected “by the daily life of every community and its people,” heritage and culture is also recognised as a “universal resources for tourism”. Many heritages used as a commercialisation opportunity for investment and income production by using its history. The commercialisation of heritage sites has increased dramatically, particularly as tourism. Tourism around heritage sites gives advantages for the government or entrepreneurs to create opportunities for economic activity. One of the most crowded tourist attraction includes the Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England which consists of standing stones with each standing around thirteen feet high. It is known to be one of the wonders of the world and the world-famous prehistoric monument in Europe, is the construction of the Stonehenge which dates back as long ago as 5,000 BC. Although the exact purpose of the famous heritage site, Stonehenge, remains as a mystery, the stone is formed in a circle, arranged with the rising and setting of the sun at the solstices. The Stonehenge is mysterious and enchanting in the eyes of tourists and the world, which enables a variety of commercial activities at this heritage sites including guiding, souvenirs, and retail sale of books. The Stonehenge also used as a burial site and recent times has become a place of pilgrimage of neo-pagans, in an attempt to revive the ancient polytheistic religions of the Middle East and Europe. The government and the locals in England uses a series of historical stories of Stonehenge to probe values, feelings, and local sentiment with the immense spiritual significance to our ancestors.

Heritage establishes values based on their inherent qualities, such as valued things being passed downs from previous generations. However, other values are also included with the use of the object, for instance, national identity. According to Timothy and Ron, heritage reflects the idea that relationship between heritage and identity is not only with the nations or regions, but shapes their “own personal, familial or cultural ipseity”. One of the most visited tourist attraction every year in the United Kingdom would be the Buckingham Palace. Originally known as Buckingham House, John Sheffield in 1703, a politician and the first Duke of Buckingham built the house. Today, it is known to be the center of attraction for the British communities of national mourning and rejoicing. Furthermore, it is the administrative headquarters of the monarch of England. Buckingham Palace finally became the royal residence, an accomplishment by the Queen Victoria, who was the first monarch to settle in 1837. Buckingham Palace considered as the British’s national identity because of the persistent and recurring characteristics of the British monarchy, The Royal Family. Over the years, there has been countless articles, books, and news of The Royal family, the nations’ figurehead as it promoted as being representative of the nation. The Royal Family became the representatives on Royal Tours of other nation and state occasion, thus, the Queen and the other members of the Royal family represent citizens of the nation. In a book published by the Royal Collection Trust, stated the Palace had to look “like everybody’s idea of a palace,” not only as a weekday home of Prince Philip and the Queen. Through repeating appearance of The Royal Family on the British’s society, the Buckingham Palace has placed an idea of a family to create a sense of national cohesion. Along with the Royal Family, the Buckingham Palace has established the symbol of nations than the actual monarch, conveying a sense of national identity to represent the universal kinship ties among the British.

Finally, the word ‘heritage’ not conceived as uniform and stable; however, Harvey stated that heritage could also be “related to human action and agency, and as an instrument of cultural power”. In many British cities, there was predominant racial discrimination against ‘coloureds’ in employment in the past. The Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963 arose from the refusal of the Bristol Omnibus Company to employ black or Asian, also known as the ‘non-whites’ in the city’s bus crews. In 1963, at the state-owned Bristol Omnibus Company, Guy Bailey was rejected from a job interview, as the manager revealed that they do not employ black people. Therefore, the locals, along with Roy Hackett and Paul Stephenson denounced to boycott of the bus service, leading to members the local black community around Bristol to do a silent, yet effective protest. Influenced and led by the social activist of the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, the boycott evoked the non-violent civil rights protects by causing a turmoil in the best peaceful manner. Ultimately, on 28th of August in the year of 1963, the Bristol Omnibus Company has announced their change in policy for a “complete integration” on the buses, “without regard to race, colour of creed”. From this event, heritage could also convey the involvement of actions such as communicating, commemorating, and passing on knowledge or memories. Although the appearance of the Bristol Bus Station has dramatically changed, the Boycott event has taken place which is used in the production of collective memory to serve to define the Bristol Bus Bus Station as a heritage. The Bristol Bus station places an understanding of a Bristol local community, and it is past, hopes and dreams of those people. By the materialisation of the local memories, which is the event of the Bristol Boycott, conveys the idea of recognising heritage as social action, specifically revealing an action towards social justice. The social action of the British community has established a significant value on the definition of ‘heritage’ today.

With the presence of the Buckingham Palace, the Stonehenge and the event of Bristol Bus Boycott, heritage is identified in three different ways. The Buckingham Palace is used its physical structure as the element of the national identity of the British and the Stonehenge is a heritage site used for its commercial purposes. Lastly, the Bristol Bus Station is famous for the event that took place there, the Bristol Bus Boycott. The purpose and the definition of heritage may change over the years; however, it expresses its past and present. It is evident that heritage can transform society by giving a sense of identity, changing values, and producing a social and economic change within the community.


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16 August 2021
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