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Monasteries feel the effect as Darwin house World Heritage application postponed

The withdrawal of an application to make Charles Darwin's former home a World Heritage Site (WHS) has meant that an application by the Twin Monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow in the North East will also be delayed.

The 'Darwin at Downe' site is a 10km2 area of the south London Borough of Bromley which includes Darwin's house. It is also the area where he studied flora and fauna leading up to his seminal work The Origin of Species.

But last week the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) pulled the application after the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) - the technical advisor to UNESCO - questioned the strength of it.

The DCMS, which called the ICOMOS decision 'a misunderstanding', will now resubmit the application in January 2009 for consideration in June 2010.

However the decision has had a knock-on effect on other proposed heritage sites which are in the application queue behind Darwin at Downe - in particular the Twin Monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow.

The Twin Monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow is two churches - the Anglo-Saxon monasteries of St Peter's in Wearmouth, built in 674, and St Paul's in Jarrow, which was built eight years later.

The Twin Monastery will now be nominated for WHS status in January 2010, for consideration in June 2011.

by Max Thompson

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