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Cambridge Heritage Research Centre

Places of Joy: The Role of Heritage After Lockdown


As lockdown is gradually released, people are using heritage locations as places of reunion, sociality and escape, but also potentially to satisfy deeper psychological and socio-cultural needs. A collaboration between researchers at University of Southampton, University of Cambridge and University of Surrey, and supported by Historic England and The Heritage Alliance, Places of Joy: The Role of Heritage After Lockdown investigates whether and why heritage appears as a joyful space at a time of national crisis, and thus to understand the specific characteristics of heritage sites that contribute to wellbeing and resilience.


HAL Study Sites

Mottisfont Abbey (Image: National Trust), Avebury (Image: J.R. Sofaer), Stansted Park, Corfe Castle (Images: S.J. Cocks)


The research uses this unique period following the release of lockdown, when access to heritage is regained after a period of deprivation, to explore the potentials of heritage by examining:

  • What motivates people to visit heritage spaces after lockdown? What needs do access to heritage spaces satisfy?
  • The role of heritage in wellbeing and how heritage might be used to develop future resilience? If heritage is fulfilling needs developed during lockdown, what are the qualities of heritage spaces that may enhance wellbeing and what could be the role of heritage in wellbeing going forward, including developing resilience should there be further spikes in COVID-19?
  • Whether visits to heritage locations at a time of heightened emotion are creating new forms of emotional resonance and perceptions of heritage. What impacts have these visits had on people and how does this affect their attitudes and visits to heritage sites going forward?


The research has been co-designed with the heritage sector in England and is being carried out at a series of different kinds of heritage sites, including both free and pay-to-enter. It takes a longitudinal approach, tracing responses to heritage from June–October 2020. There is more information and updates on the project on our Facebook page at


If you have visited a heritage site since the end of lockdown we would be grateful if you would consider filling in a short survey. The survey can be accessed from the link below and takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete:


We would also like to collect stories and reminiscences of your visits to heritage sites after lockdown. Tell us the story of your visit, why it was meaningful to you, and why you chose a heritage site. If you would like to contribute your story, please email it to:

Alternatively, we would be happy to arrange a short online interview to document your experience.


University of Southampton          University of Cambridge          Historic England       The Heritage Alliance