January Newsletter 2021

Happy New Year to you all and welcome to our first newsletter of 2021.

The past year has been a particularly challenging one for everyone, but, in spite of the current circumstances, at the CHF we have done our best to maintain a steady momentum.

On 9 March I attended the Commonwealth Day Service in Westminster Abbey; the first time that the CHF has been represented. It was an inspiring occasion with a strong emphasis on Commonwealth youth with organisations representing their individual countries alongside High Commissioners and faith leaders from all the world’s religions. It was a celebration of what makes the Commonwealth unique and one in which the CHF has an important role to play.

Two days after the event, and just prior to the first lockdown, we held a hugely-successful international launch at Australia House with speeches from our Founding Patron, HE Sir Rodney Williams, the Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda, HE George Brandis QC, the Australian High Commissioner and Yasmeen Lari, the first qualified female architect from Pakistan, who spoke eloquently about the importance of shared Commonwealth heritage.

Since the launch we have expanded the role of our International Advisory Committee and developed an exciting initiative on Commonwealth Heritage at Risk (CHAR). We are currently exploring four pilot projects for documenting heritage at risk in Fiji, Nigeria, Trinidad and Pakistan. We aim to take these forward as soon as funds and circumstances permit.

I hope you are enjoying our regular newsletters and instagram posts. We will shortly be launching a series of regular webinars, so please watch out for details.

We welcome hearing from members about any aspect of our work and your ideas as to how we can maximise our impact.

Philip Davies
Chairman, Commonwealth Heritage Forum


The first recorded watercolour in Australia was made by surgeon Arthur Bowes Smyth on 11th February 1788. He told his journal that he had ‘etch’d the likeness of the [grass] Tree wh. produces this Gum, wt. my pen, wh. I have subjoined’d, & is no very bad resemblance of it.’ This basic watercolour is now in the collections of the State Library.  Read on


The British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia (BACSA), founded in 1977, was the first organisation to address the built heritage of the British Empire in the East. Exactly thirty years after Britain’s withdrawal from the Indian subcontinent, some of BACSA’s first members were people who had lived and worked in undivided India, Burma, Malaya and Singapore. Many had long family connections with the East, going back six generations in one case. Others had siblings who had died in infancy in the 1930s and were buried in hill-station cemeteries at Shimla, Mussoorie and Murree.  Read on

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