English Heritage stately homes open their doors to Google Street View

English Heritage has partnered with Google to use its Street View technology to allow the public to view previously unseen artefacts, rarely opened archaeological stores and hard-to-see masterpieces.

Thousands of rooms, objects and artworks have been photographed and catalogued and their stories told through new and immersive online experiences.

The project uses gigapixel cameras to bring 29 historic sites across England to life for an international audience.

From Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, where King Arthur is said to have been conceived, to a Cold War Bunker in York, armchair heritage buffs will be able to explore some of England’s most famous and unusual historic sites through videos, high-resolution photography and 360-degree tours.

Matt Thompson, head of collections at English Heritage, said: "In our new role as a charity, English Heritage is looking for innovative ways to open our sites to the public and share their fascinating stories with them.

“Now thanks to Google Arts & Culture’s technology, we’ve been able to bring people closer to our historic masterpieces than ever before, open up our storehouses to a global audience and showcase hitherto unseen artefacts.”

For the first time, people will get to see the details in Antonio Zucchi’s 18th century ceiling paintings at Kenwood House, London, and the 17th century Elysium ceiling at Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire, both of which have been photographed in ultra-high definition.

They will also be able to view the largely unseen vast 1820 painting of the Battle of Hastings by Frank Wilkin, which hangs on the walls of the private school at Battle Abbey, East Sussex.

Google’s Street View is allowing people to remotely explore the labyrinthine corridors and workshops of the Victorian J. W. Evans silver factory in Birmingham, normally only open to the public for pre-booked guided tours.

The technology is also opening up the store of 160,000 historical artefacts at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, revealing items such as a Roman sculpture of the goddess Venus, a medieval stone corbel, or bracket, with a carved face and a 19th-century wood and iron tower used to change electric lamps in London’s Covent Garden Market building.

The partnership is the first time Google Arts & Culture has worked with a heritage organisation and the first time it has worked with an institution covering multiple sites.

Amit Sood, director of Google Arts & Culture, said: “England has such a rich, diverse, and interesting heritage - spanning literally centuries.

“English Heritage has done such an amazing job in preserving iconic art and sites, allowing us a glimpse into what life was like in a different time.

“Google Arts & Culture are proud to partner with English Heritage and use the power of technology to share these wonders and stories with a global audience.”

The new project can be accessed here.

Last year, a Google Street View tour was set up to allow the public to access private parts of Cambridge University’s colleges usually closed to visitors.

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