Images of England

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Images of England is an online photographic record of all the listed buildings in England at the date of February 2002. The archive gives access to over 323,000 colour images, each of which is matched with the item’s listed designation architectural description. [1]

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.


It is a snapshot rather than an up-to-date record: it does not include all listed buildings, only those listed at February 2001, and is not updated as listing details change. [2] As of July 2019 the site carried an entry popup stating that it would shortly be closing down.


Images of England was a stand-alone project funded jointly by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The aim of the project was to photograph every listed building and object (some 370,000) in England and to make the images available online to create, what was at the time, one of the largest free-to-view picture libraries of buildings in the world. [3] [4] It is part of the Historic England Archive of England’s historic environment. [5]

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’.

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.

The project started in October 1999 and the final images were uploaded in September 2008. There are 323,107 images online.

The archive has deliberately not been updated, so any changes to the buildings since the photographs were first taken are not recorded. The official up-to-date list of all listed buildings in England is found on the National Heritage List for England. [6]

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.


The searchable database includes a range of items, not just houses and churches. The term ‘Listed Building’ includes war memorials, letter boxes, bridges, tombs, telephone boxes and milestones and much more. Each entry on the database consists of a single, representative photograph and a text listing, written by historic building experts within English Heritage. [2]

Red telephone box kiosk for a public telephone designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott

The red telephone box, a telephone kiosk for a public telephone designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, is a familiar sight on the streets of the United Kingdom, Malta, Bermuda and Gibraltar.

Milestone Numbered marker along a road or boundary

A milestone is one of a series of numbered markers placed along a road or boundary at intervals of one mile or occasionally, parts of a mile. They are typically located at the side of the road or in a median or central reservation. They are alternatively known as mile markers, mileposts or mile posts. Mileage is the distance along the road from a fixed commencement point. Commonly the term "milestone" may also refer to markers placed at other distances, such as every kilometre.

However, some records state ‘no image available’. This may be for a variety of reasons, e.g., because the building no longer existed, it could not be found or the photograph did not pass the quality assurance process. Pictures of prisons had a different treatment as it is illegal to take or attempt to take a photograph of any building that is, or is associated with, one of HM Prisons. Photographs of Listed Prisons were taken with permission from the Prison Service as part of a major recording project by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (merged with English Heritage in 1999). [2]

The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) was a government advisory body responsible for documenting buildings and monuments of archaeological, architectural and historical importance in England. It was established in 1908 ; and was merged with English Heritage in 1999. The research section is now Historic England.

In some instances a house owner did not give permission for the photograph to be taken on their private land, or may have asked to be included in the exemption scheme. [2] In early 2002, the Country Landowners Association (now Country Land and Business Association) raised concerns over the security implications of photographs of residential properties made available on the Images of England website. [7] In response, English Heritage introduced an exemption scheme whereby owners of listed buildings with a maximum of two households were able to register for an exclusion from the database until 2013. The photographs of the properties were still taken, where visible from public land, and are stored in the NMR archive.

Project methodology

Hundreds of volunteer photographers, many from local camera clubs or the Royal Photographic Society, were allocated a number of listed buildings to record in their area. They were briefed to only take one ‘defining image’ of each listed item. [8] Each 'defining image' aimed to show the architectural character of the building, indicate its historical function, suggest its context, and provide a truthful high quality image with as much visual information as possible. The photographers were restricted to one frame per building and used standard 35mm photographic equipment and colour negative film.

Volunteers were given film, processing and travel expenses and retain the copyright to their images. Each photograph is credited to the relevant photographer on the site. [2] The photographs had to be taken from publicly accessible land (unless permission was granted to photograph from private land).

Many of the listed structures were hard to photograph due to their size or location. This meant that, in some circumstances, some pictures are not ideal, but have been included anyway to provide as comprehensive a record as possible. [2] Much of the success of the finished project is due to the enthusiasm and thoroughness of the volunteers who hunted down buildings and tried to find the best angle for the photograph in often not ideal circumstances. [8]


As of July 2019 the Images of England site carried a popup message shown on first entry, stating "This site is approaching retirement and will shortly be closing down. We’re working to make all Images of England content available on the Historic England website". [9]

See also

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  1. "English Heritage-Images of England". Building Conservation. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "The Images of England project". Archived from the original on 13 August 2009. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  3. "Images of England". The Guardian. 26 September 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  4. "Images of England: English Heritage National Monuments Record". Archived from the original on 22 February 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  5. "Historic England Archive". Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  6. "The List". Historic England . Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  7. "CLA wins exemption for listed house owners". 21 May 2003. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  8. 1 2 "1999 Images Of England Project" . Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  9. "English Heritage Images of England: a searchable photographic archive of the historic buildings of England". Images of England. Retrieved 29 July 2019.