Historic England

Last updated

Historic England
Historic England logo.jpg
The Historic England logo
Formation1 April 2015 (2015-04-01)
Legal status Non-departmental public body
HeadquartersThe Engine House, Firefly Avenue, Swindon, Wiltshire SN2 2EH
Region served
Duncan Wilson
( chief executive )
£88.5 million [1]
884 [2]
Website historicengland.org.uk

Historic England (officially the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England) is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It is tasked with protecting the historical environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings and ancient monuments and by advising central and local government.

In the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to quangos. NDPBs are not an integral part of any government department and carry out their work at arm's length from ministers, although ministers are ultimately responsible to Parliament for the activities of bodies sponsored by their department.

Listed building Protected historic structure in the United Kingdom

A listed building, or listed structure, is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, Cadw in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.


The body was officially created by the National Heritage Act 1983, and operated from April 1984 to April 2015 under the name of English Heritage. [3] In 2015, following the changes to English Heritage's structure that moved the protection of the National Heritage Collection into the voluntary sector in the English Heritage Trust, the body that remained was rebranded as Historic England. [4] Historic England has a similar remit to and complements the work of Natural England, which aims to protect the natural environment.

English Heritage charity responsible for the National Heritage Collection of England

English Heritage is a charity that manages over 400 historic monuments, buildings and places. These include prehistoric sites, medieval castles, Roman forts and country houses. The charity states that it uses these properties to ‘bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year’.

The voluntary sector or civic sector is the duty of social activity undertaken by organizations that are non-governmental nonprofit organizations. This sector is also called the third sector, community sector, and nonprofit sector, in contrast to the public sector and the private sector. Civic sector or social sector are other terms for the sector, emphasizing its relationship to civil society. Given the diversity of organizations that comprise the sector, Peter Frumkin prefers "non-profit and voluntary sector".

Natural England is a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It is responsible for ensuring that England's natural environment, including its land, flora and fauna, freshwater and marine environments, geology and soils, are protected and improved. It also has a responsibility to help people enjoy, understand and access the natural environment.

The body also inherited the Historic England Archive from the old English Heritage, and projects linked to the archive such as Britain from Above, which saw the archive work with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland to digitise, catalogue and put online 96,000 of the oldest Aerofilms images. The archive also holds various nationally important collections and the results of older projects such as the work of the National Buildings Record, later absorbed by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and the Images of England project which set out to create a freely accessible online database of the 370,000 listed properties in England as a snapshot in time at the turn of the millennium.

Historic England Archive organization

The Historic England Archive is the public archive of Historic England, located in The Engine House on Fire Fly Avenue in Swindon, formerly part of the Swindon Works of the Great Western Railway.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, established in 1908, is a Welsh Government sponsored body concerned with the archaeological, architectural and historic environment of Wales. It is based in Aberystwyth.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland government agency

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) was an executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government, which was "sponsored" [financed and with oversight] through Historic Scotland, an executive agency of the Scottish Government.


Historic England's Swindon office, home to their Archives English Heritage - National Monuments record centre - geograph.org.uk - 309655.jpg
Historic England's Swindon office, home to their Archives
Historic England's former London office at Holborn Bars 142 Holborn Bars, London.jpg
Historic England's former London office at Holborn Bars

Historic England inherits English Heritage's position as the UK government's statutory adviser and a statutory consultee on all aspects of the historic environment and its heritage assets. [5] This includes archaeology on land and underwater, historic buildings sites and areas, designated landscapes and the historic elements of the wider landscape. [6] It monitors and reports on the state of England's heritage and publishes the annual Heritage at Risk survey which is one of the UK Government's Official statistics. It is tasked to secure the preservation and enhancement of the man-made heritage of England for the benefit of future generations. [6]

Official statistics statistics published by government agencies or other public bodies such as international organizations as a public good

Official statistics are statistics published by government agencies or other public bodies such as international organizations as a public good. They provide quantitative or qualitative information on all major areas of citizens' lives, such as economic and social development, living conditions, health, education, and the environment.

Its remit involves:

Scheduled monument nationally important archaeological site or historic building in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, a scheduled monument is a nationally important archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorised change.

It is not responsible for approving alterations to listed buildings. The management of listed buildings is the responsibility of local planning authorities and the Department for Communities and Local Government. [11]

It also owns the National Heritage Collection of nationally important historic sites, currently in public care. However, they do not run these sites as this function is instead carried out by the English Heritage Trust under licence until 2023. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

This page gives an overview of the complex structure of environmental and cultural conservation in the United Kingdom.

Cadw is the historic environment service of the Welsh Government and part of the Tourism and Culture group. Cadw works to protect the historic buildings and structures, the landscapes and heritage sites of Wales, so that the public can visit them, enjoy them and understand their significance. Cadw manages 127 state owned properties and sites. It arranges events at its managed properties, provides lectures and teaching sessions, offers heritage walks and hosts an online shop. Members of the public can become members of Cadw to gain membership privileges.

Historic preservation preservation of items of historical significance

Historic preservation (US), heritage preservation or heritage conservation (UK), is an endeavour that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect buildings, objects, landscapes or other artifacts of historical significance. This term refers specifically to the preservation of the built environment, and not to preservation of, for example, primeval forests or wilderness.

Three separate historic buildings councils were created by the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953, one for each of England, Scotland and Wales. Each Historic Buildings Council advised the relevant government minister on the exercise of powers under the 1953 Act relating to the preservation of listed buildings and other buildings of special architectural or historic interest, including applications for grants. Responsibilities for advice in relation to the Planning Act 1990 were added latter.

Heritage at risk is term for cultural heritage assets that are at risk as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development, or are vulnerable to becoming so. It is most often applied to architectural works already protected to some extent through a legal designation process, such as listed buildings and scheduled monuments.

National Heritage Act is a stock short title used in Malaysia and the United Kingdom for legislation relating to national heritage.

Battlefields are the final resting place for thousands of unknown soldiers, both nobles and commoners, whose lives were sacrificed in making of the history of their country. These historic assets are an intrinsic part of a nation’s identity and consciousness. They inspire strong emotions and live on in stories, poetry and music. However, the history relating to them is often hard to unravel, as there is often little to see above ground and the historical record is usually written by the victors. The UK has many historic battlefield sites, some of which have legal protection through heritage protection legislation whilst others are protected through landscape legislation. More recently, some archaeologists prefer the term "site of conflict" to "battlefield", because of the difficulty in defining the geographical extent of a site.

The National Heritage List for England (NHLE) is England’s official list of buildings, monuments, parks and gardens, wrecks, battlefields and World Heritage Sites. It is maintained by Historic England and brings together these different designations as a single resource even though they vary in the type of legal protection afforded to each. Conservation areas do not appear on the NHLE since they are designated by the relevant local planning authority.

Designation is the act of setting aside something, or devoting it to a particular purpose. In the legal planning context, it is also “the action of choosing a place for a special purpose or giving it a special status”.

The county of West Sussex in South East England has 176 Grade I listed buildings. Such buildings are described by English Heritage, the authority responsible for their designation, as "of exceptional interest [and] sometimes considered to be internationally important". Grade I is the highest of the three grades of listed status in England: about 2.5% of the country's 374,000 listed buildings have this designation.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is an executive non-departmental public body responsible for investigating, caring for and promoting Scotland’s historic environment. HES was formed in 2015 from the merger of government agency Historic Scotland with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). Among other duties, Historic Environment Scotland maintains more than 300 properties of national importance including Edinburgh Castle, Skara Brae and Fort George.

Protected areas of Scotland

Many parts of Scotland are protected in accordance with a number of national and international designations because of their environmental, historical or cultural value. Protected areas can be divided according to the type of resource which each seeks to protect. Scottish Natural Heritage has various roles in the delivery of many environmental designations in Scotland, i.e. those aimed at protecting flora and fauna, scenic qualities and geological features. Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designations that protect sites of historic and cultural importance. Some international designations, such as World Heritage Sites, can cover both categories of site.

Conservation in Scotland

This page gives an overview of the structure of environmental and cultural conservation in Scotland, a constituent country of the United Kingdom.


  1. "How We Are Funded". Historic England. Historic England. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  2. Historic England Annual Report 2018-19 https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/he-ann-rep-accounts-18-19/he-ann-rep-accounts-2018-19/
  3. "Historic England's Role". Historic England. Historic England. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  4. "New Era for England's Heritage". English Heritage. English Heritage. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  5. "Historic Environment" . Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  6. 1 2 "Funding of the Arts and Heritage" . Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  7. 1 2 "English Heritage Annual Report and Accounts". Historic England. English Heritage. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  8. "Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979" . Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  9. "National Heritage Act 1983, Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England" . Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  10. "Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990" . Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  11. 1 2 "Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment". Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  12. "Historic England and the English Heritage Trust". Historic England. Historic England. Retrieved 6 April 2015.