What English Heritage Does

English Heritage exists to help people understand, value, care for and enjoy England's unique heritage.

Officially known as the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, we are an executive Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

We are probably best known for looking after the National Heritage Collection of historic sites and monuments and the guardianship of over 500,000 objects.

The Collection ranges from prehistoric stone circles to a 1960s nuclear bunker and includes Stonehenge and Hadrian's Wall, Charles Darwin's diaries and the Duke of Wellington's boots. Taken together, over 400 properties in our care help to tell the story of England.

Charles Darwin's study at Down House

Charles Darwin's study at Down House in Kent, which is cared for by English Heritage

We also run an extensive events programme throughout the year and provide free educational visits for schools.

But we also:

  • Advise government on which parts of our heritage are nationally important so they can be protected by designation (which includes the listing of buildings) and promote the importance of heritage in making places distinctive and valued
  • Advise local authorities on managing changes to the most important parts of our heritage
  • Encourage investment in heritage at risk 
  • Share our knowledge, skills and expertise by offering training and guidance, giving practical conservation advice and access to our resources.
  • Provide £17 million in grants.
  • Look after 12 million photographs in our public archives.

Changes Ahead

However, from 1 April 2015, English Heritage will separate into a charity to be called English Heritage to run the National Heritage Collection of historic sites and monuments, and Historic England, a non-departmental public body, offering expert, constructive advice and championing the wider historic environment. Both organisations will continue to report to our governing body, the Commission, which is ultimately responsible to the DCMS.

Read our Chairman Sir Laurie Magnus’s letter and other information on this exciting new chapter in our history.