Historic England

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Historic England
Historic England logo.svg
Formation1 April 2015 (2015-04-01)
Legal status Non-departmental public body
HeadquartersThe Engine House
Fire Fly Avenue
SN2 2EH [1]
Region served
Duncan Wilson
( chief executive )
£88.5 million [2]
884 [3]
Website historicengland.org.uk OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

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 historic environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings, scheduling ancient monuments, registering historic Parks and Gardens and by advising central and local government.


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. [4] 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. [5] Historic England has a similar remit to and complements the work of Natural England, which aims to protect 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'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. [6] This includes archaeology on land and underwater, historic buildings sites and areas, designated landscapes and the historic elements of the wider landscape. [7] 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. [7]

Its remit involves:

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. [12]

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. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

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". Within its portfolio are Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Tintagel Castle and the best preserved parts of Hadrian's Wall. English Heritage also manages the London Blue Plaque scheme, which links influential historical figures to particular buildings.

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.

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

Cadw historic environment service of the Welsh Government

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.

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.

Each county or unitary authority in the United Kingdom maintains a sites and monuments record or SMR, consisting of a list of known archaeological sites. Many SMRs are now developing into much broader historic environment records (HERs), including information on historic buildings and designed landscapes. Each record lists the location, type and period of site, along with a brief description and information on the location of more detailed sources of information such as site reports. This information is most commonly used to help inform decisions on the likelihood of new development affecting archaeological deposits. Government guidance requires local authorities to consider archaeology a material consideration in determining planning applications and the SMR aids this consideration.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales archival institution in United Kingdom

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.

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. It is a philosophical concept that became popular in the twentieth century, which maintains that cities as products of centuries’ development should be obligated to protect their patrimonial legacy. This term refers specifically to the preservation of the built environment, and not to preservation of, for example, primeval forests or wilderness.

The Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England provides a listing and classification system for historic parks and gardens similar to that used for listed buildings. The register is managed by Historic England under the provisions of the National Heritage Act 1983. Over 1,600 sites are listed, ranging from the grounds of large stately homes to small domestic gardens, as well other designed landscapes such as town squares, public parks and cemeteries.

Cultural heritage Physical artifact or intangible attribute of a society inherited from past generations

Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that is inherited from past generations. Not all legacies of past generations are "heritage", rather heritage is a product of selection by society.

Aerofilms Ltd was the UK's first commercial aerial photography company, founded in 1919 by Francis Wills and Claude Graham White. Wills had served as an Observer with the Royal Naval Air Service during World War I, and was the driving force behind the expansion of the company from an office and a bathroom in Hendon to a business with major contracts in Africa and Asia as well as in the UK. Co-founder Graham-White was a pioneer aviator who had achieved fame by making the first night flight in 1910.

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.

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.

Battlefields are the final resting place for thousands of unknown soldiers, both nobles and commoners, whose lives were sacrificed in the 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.

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”.

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. "Historic England Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  2. "How We Are Funded". Historic England. Historic England. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  3. 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/
  4. "Historic England's Role". Historic England. Historic England. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  5. "New Era for England's Heritage". English Heritage. English Heritage. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  6. "Historic Environment" . Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  7. 1 2 "Funding of the Arts and Heritage" . Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  8. 1 2 "English Heritage Annual Report and Accounts". Historic England. English Heritage. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  9. "Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979" . Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  10. "National Heritage Act 1983, Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England" . Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  11. "Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990" . Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  12. 1 2 "Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment". Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  13. "Historic England and the English Heritage Trust". Historic England. Historic England. Retrieved 6 April 2015.