The Heritage Lottery Fund and its role in the construction and preservation of the past: 1994-2016

  • Virginia Tandy

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis examines the operation and governance of the Heritage Lottery Fund and scrutinises its role in managing how the past is used and valued in the present. My purpose is to interpret the funders function and influence in the negotiated heritage process, understanding heritage to constitute both an inheritance to be preserved and as a political and social construction. This study questions the veracity of the Heritage Lottery Funds statement that it does not define the heritage it supports (HLF, 2013a, p.10), given the parameters and priorities it sets for the allocation of its funding. Furthermore, my findings suggest that the funder should be regarded not only as a heritage saver but also as a heritage maker. Set in the context of post-1945 UK heritage policy, the study locates the work of the Heritage Lottery Fund in a continuum, highlighting the enduring links with its predecessor bodies, the National Land Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund, through the dominant models of heritage production that are present in each funders work. This research integrates theoretical frameworks of heritage value, historical research and my own professionally situated knowledge as a former Heritage Lottery Fund grantee and trustee, to enrich and deepen the understanding of the policy development and working methods of the largest state funder of heritage. The thesis illustrates, by example, the breadth of the funders remit through detailed studies of two targeted funding strategies linked to marking the Centenary of the First World War and the regeneration of urban parks and four case studies of individual high-profile grants for heritage objects. This analysis illuminates the role of the governing body in grant making, considers reactions to their funding choices in the public sphere and provides some commentary on the changing relationship with the lottery players. Through these examples, the research proposes that we should recognise that publicly funded heritage activity is shaped by both the requirements of the lottery distributor and the aspirations of the applicant. The thesis asserts that the Heritage Lottery Fund shapes many of the ways in which the past is constructed today and suggests that this power and influence should be more widely acknowledged and recognised in the critique of heritage practice and cultural policy.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorHelen Rees Leahy (Supervisor) & Abi Gilmore (Supervisor)


  • public parks
  • Churchill Papers
  • National Lottery Heritage Fund
  • First World War Centenary
  • National Land Fund
  • heritage
  • Heritage Lottery Fund
  • cultural policy
  • funding
  • National Heritage Memorial Fund

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