Stonehenge celebrates 100 years of public ownership

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(CNN) — England’s prehistoric monument Stonehenge is marking a century in public ownership with an unashamedly British celebration.

The 4,500-year-old site was rescued from disrepair after landowner Cecil Chubb gave it to the nation on October 26, 1918, allowing crucial maintenance work to take place.

New artworks, an anniversary tea party and an inflatable replica of the monument that people are encouraged to jump around on have been unveiled to commemorate the milestone.

“Cecil and Mary Chubb’s generosity saved Stonehenge and transformed it from a neglected ruin to a national treasure. Their gift started a program of care and conservation for the ancient stones and the surrounding landscape, one that continues today,” said Kate Mavor, chief executive of English Heritage, the charity that manages the site.

The site was repaired throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries, after its state was repeatedly criticized. In 1993, members of Parliament dubbed its disrepair “a national disgrace.”

Jeremy Deller's inflatible replica, which has toured the country and is now at the Stonehenge site.

Jeremy Deller’s inflatible replica, which has toured the country and is now at the Stonehenge site.

Courtesy Jeremy Deller

Now in a more presentable incarnation, the site no longer allows all of its visitors to walk around within the stones.

The inflatable version of the monument will be available for families to use at the site this weekend.

“I feel we are instinctively drawn to Stonehenge and similar places, which are such important but also mysterious constituents of our identity. To celebrate this gift to the nation is to celebrate the place itself,” said Jeremy Deller, the Turner Prize-winning artist who designed the replica.

Last month, English Heritage recreated vintage pictures taken by visitors to the monument over the past decades.



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