Historic England

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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. 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.

Historic England
Formation1 April 2015 (2015-04-01)
Legal statusNon-departmental public body
HeadquartersThe Engine House, Fire Fly Avenue, Swindon, SN2 2EH[1]
Region served
Duncan Wilson
(chief executive)
£88.5 million[2]

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]

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 houses various national collections, including the results of older projects, such as the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and Images of England (providing online access to images of listed buildings in England as of 2002).


Historic England's Swindon office, home to their Archives
Historic England's former London office at Holborn Bars

Historic England inherited 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:

  • Caring for nationally important archive collections of photographs, drawings and other records which document the historic environment of England and date from the eighteenth century onwards.
  • Giving grants to national and local organisations for the conservation of historic buildings, monuments and landscapes. In 2013/14 over £13 million worth of grants were made to support heritage buildings.[8]
  • Advising central UK government on which English heritage assets are nationally important and should be protected by designation (i.e. listing, scheduling, etc.).[9][10]
  • Administering and maintaining the register of England's listed buildings, scheduled monuments, registered battlefields, World Heritage Sites and protected parks and gardens.[11] This is published online as the National Heritage List for England.
  • Advising local authorities on managing changes to the most important parts of heritage.
  • Providing expertise through advice, training and guidance to improve the standards and skills of people working in heritage, practical conservation and access to resources. In 2009–2010 it trained around 200 professionals working in local authorities and the wider sector.[8]
  • Consulting and collaborating with other heritage bodies, local and national planning organisations e.g. the preparation of the 2010 Planning Policy statement for the Historic Environment (PPS5).[12]
  • Commissioning and conducting archaeological research, including the publication of Heritage Counts[13] and Heritage at Risk on behalf of the heritage sector; these are annual research surveys into the state of England's heritage.

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]

Historic England also owns the National Heritage Collection of nationally important historic sites, currently in public care. However, it does not run these sites as this function is instead carried out by the English Heritage Trust under licence until 2023.[14]

See also

  • Conservation in the United Kingdom  Overview of the structure of environmental and cultural conservation in the UK
  • Heritage Open Days  Annual celebration of England's architecture
  • Cadw  Welsh Government historic environment service
  • Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales  Archival institution in Wales
  • Historic Scotland  Executive agency responsible for historic monuments in Scotland
  • Manx National Heritage  National heritage organisation of the Isle of Man
  • National Trust  Conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • National Trust for Scotland  Conservation charity that protects and promotes Scotland's natural and cultural heritage
  • Natural England  UK non-departmental public body
  • Northern Ireland Environment Agency  Government executive agency


  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. "Funding of the Arts and Heritage". Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  8. "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. "Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment". GOV.UK. 23 March 2010. Archived from the original on 27 March 2010 via Internet Archive.
  13. "Heritage Counts". historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  14. "Historic England and the English Heritage Trust". Historic England. Historic England. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
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