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The former London headquarters of English Heritage at 23 Savile Row

English Heritage is an organisation of the United Kingdom government (Department for Culture, Media and Sport). It manages many monuments of the historic environment of England. It was set up under the terms of the National Heritage Act 1983. Before then the Department of the Environment had responsibility for these functions.

British Heritage takes care of many important historical and archaeological sites, from Stonehenge to the world's earliest iron bridge. But it has responsibilities in conservation, giving advice, registering and protecting the historic environment as well. It also maintains a public archive, the National Monuments Record (NMR).


Main article: List of English Heritage properties

Stonehenge, one of English Heritage's most famous sites

English Heritage is the guardian of over 400 sites and monuments, the most famous of which include Stonehenge, Iron Bridge and Dover Castle. Whilst many have an entry charge, more than 250 properties are free to enter[1] including Maiden Castle, Dorset and St Catherine's Oratory.

The properties are part of the portfolio of over 880 sites amassed by the British Government between the 1880s and the 1970s to form the National Collection of built and archaeological heritage. (The balance is in the care of Historic Scotland and CADW.) These sites represent a deliberate attempt by the state in the 19th and early 20th century to take the nation’s most significant prehistoric sites and medieval sites, which were no longer in active use, into public ownership.[2] This national property collection performs the same function as pictures in the National Gallery and the archaeological material in the British Museum.

Unlike the National Trust, English Heritage holds few furnished properties. New sites are rarely added to the collection as other charities and institutions are now encouraged to care for them and open them to the public.[2]

The properties are held by English Heritage under various arrangements. The majority are in the guardianship of the Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with the freehold being retained by the owner. The remaining properties are either owned by English Heritage, other government departments or the Crown Estate.[3]

In 2010-2011 there were 5.5 million visits to staffed properties, an estimated 6 million visits to unstaffed sites and a further 32,340 free educational visits.[4]

Images of England

Main article: Images of England

Images of England is an English Heritage project intended to create a freely accessible online database of the 370,000 listed properties in England at a snapshot in time at the turn of the millenium. Each database entry includes a representative photograph and a description of the building written by an expert architectural historian.

Equivalent organisations

  • Wales — Cadw
  • Scotland — Historic Scotland
  • Northern IrelandNorthern Ireland Environment Agency (formerly the Environment and Heritage Service)
  • Republic of IrelandOffice of Public Works
  • Isle of Man — Manx National Heritage

See also

A typical English Heritage "blue plaque", here marking the former London residence of guitarist Jimi Hendrix at 23 Brook Street.


  1. "See English Heritage history for free". Retrieved on 10 May 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "English Heritage Information Pack 2010". Retrieved on 10 May 2011.
  3. English Heritage 2009-2010 Annual Report and Accounts
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named EHannualreport2010-11

Other websites

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