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Collections

From the most powerful to the most humble, from Bronze Age axes to Gainsborough portraits, English Heritage cares for a remarkable collection of objects that help to bring our properties to life. It is made up of more than 700,000 objects and spans more than 5,000 years of England’s story from prehistory to the Cold War.

The collection is incredibly diverse and includes archaeological material, decorative arts, weaponry and a world-class selection of fine art. These objects are an invaluable resource which enables us to learn more about the people of the past.

 

 

Collections highlights

The museum at Hailes Abbey

English Heritage does not operate a central museum. Instead, we try to make sure that we display objects that were used, found or were originally displayed at the sites where you see them. 

Watch The Treasures of Hailes Abbey

Hailes Abbey was one of the most significant pilgrimage sites in medieval England. Set in the tranquil Cotswolds countryside, the Abbey’s on-site museum now tells the story of the monastery for new generations. We delve into its collection with experts Michael Carter and Ian Leins to take a closer look at some of the Abbey’s star objects.

Hailes Abbey was one of the most significant pilgrimage sites in medieval England. Set in the tranquil Cotswolds countryside, the Abbey’s on-site museum now tells the story of the monastery for new generations. We delve into its collection with experts Michael Carter and Ian Leins to take a closer look at some of the Abbey’s star objects.

Watch Uncovering The Corbridge Story

The Time Capsule

Go behind the scenes with our experts and discover the people of Roman Corbridge through the things they left behind. In this first of three films we go back to the early phase of the town’s life when a Roman soldier buried a chest full of his belongings at Corbridge. Rediscovered 1,900 years later, it’s now known as the Corbridge Hoard – a remarkable time capsule of Roman life at the edge of Empire.

Go behind the scenes with our experts and discover the people of Roman Corbridge through the things they left behind. In this first of three films we go back to the early phase of the town’s life when a Roman soldier buried a chest full of his belongings at Corbridge. Rediscovered 1,900 years later, it’s now known as the Corbridge Hoard – a remarkable time capsule of Roman life at the edge of Empire.

Watch Uncovering The Corbridge Story

Life On The Crossroads

In the second film of our three-part series we discover some of the objects that were bought and sold on Corbridge’s bustling high street, and learn how the town became a centre for trade and industry.

In the second film of our three-part series we discover some of the objects that were bought and sold on Corbridge’s bustling high street, and learn how the town became a centre for trade and industry.

Watch Uncovering the Corbridge Story

Lasting Connections

In this final film of our three-part series we look in detail at the extraordinary Corbridge Lanx – a decorative silver tray that reveals the wealth and pride of the town’s residents, and their lasting connections with the far side of the Empire.

In this final film of our three-part series we look in detail at the extraordinary Corbridge Lanx – a decorative silver tray that reveals the wealth and pride of the town’s residents, and their lasting connections with the far side of the Empire.

Watch Behind The Scenes At Audley End House With Maddie Moate

Join Maddie Moate as she explores the opulent Jacboean mansion of Audley End House and Gardens. Learn about the history of the house as Maddie meets the Curator of Collections, the Head Gardener, a Historian, the Head Groom – and Hovis the horse. Go behind the scenes and discover what’s in the cabinet of curiosities, see the house from a different perspective and admire the glorious gardens designed by Capability Brown.

Join Maddie Moate as she explores the opulent Jacboean mansion of Audley End House and Gardens. Learn about the history of the house as Maddie meets the Curator of Collections, the Head Gardener, a Historian, the Head Groom – and Hovis the horse. Go behind the scenes and discover what’s in the cabinet of curiosities, see the house from a different perspective and admire the glorious gardens designed by Capability Brown.

Watch Painting Conservation

Restoring Titian's Orpheus

Join Collections Conservator Alice Tate-Harte as she works to restore Titian's 'Orpheus Enchanting the Animals' from the Wellington Collection at London's Apsley House. Discover what infrared scans have revealed about the master’s original brushstrokes. The Orpheus myth depicted in the painting is one that continues to enchant us, and author David Almond explains why it’s a story that deserves to be preserved and re-told for generations to come.

Join Collections Conservator Alice Tate-Harte as she works to restore Titian's 'Orpheus Enchanting the Animals' from the Wellington Collection at London's Apsley House. Discover what infrared scans have revealed about the master’s original brushstrokes. The Orpheus myth depicted in the painting is one that continues to enchant us, and author David Almond explains why it’s a story that deserves to be preserved and re-told for generations to come.

Watch Conservation Behind the Scenes

Rievaulx Abbey

Take a look behind the scenes at the conservation work carried out on the historic objects displayed in the Rievaulx Abbey museum. Discover the tools of the trade and methods used to reveal the detail of these objects, helping us to tell the story of Rievaulx.

Take a look behind the scenes at the conservation work carried out on the historic objects displayed in the Rievaulx Abbey museum. Discover the tools of the trade and methods used to reveal the detail of these objects, helping us to tell the story of Rievaulx.

Watch Painting Restoration

Huysmans at Wrest Park

Rachel Turnbull, English Heritage’s senior collections conservator for fine art, and curator of collections, Peter Moore explain how a group portrait by Jacob Huysmans (1633 – 1696) has been painstakingly restored after being acquired to go back on display at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire for the first time in 100 years.

Rachel Turnbull, English Heritage’s senior collections conservator for fine art, and curator of collections, Peter Moore explain how a group portrait by Jacob Huysmans (1633 – 1696) has been painstakingly restored after being acquired to go back on display at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire for the first time in 100 years.

The Treasures of Hailes Abbey
Uncovering The Corbridge Story The Time Capsule
Uncovering The Corbridge Story Life On The Crossroads
Uncovering the Corbridge Story Lasting Connections
Behind The Scenes At Audley End House With Maddie Moate
Painting Conservation Restoring Titian's Orpheus
Conservation Behind the Scenes Rievaulx Abbey
Painting Restoration Huysmans at Wrest Park
3D rendered Roman dodecahedron.

Objects in 3D

Explore a selection of fascinating objects from our collection rendered in 3D using the latest photogrammetry techniques. 

Get up close to intricately carved architectural fragments from Hailes Abbey, examine the mysterious dodecahedron from Corbridge Roman Town, and spin around a macabre double-sided memento mori from the collection at Ranger's House. 

Explore English Heritage Collections in 3D

Google Arts and Culture

Detail of Vermeer's The Guitar Player

Discover thousands of our objects and the stories they tell about our sites on Google Arts and Culture.  

Zoom into the finest detail of some of our greatest works of art, including Vermeer’s The Guitar Player and Rembrandt’s Portrait of the Artist, and get an incredibly up close view of some of our most remarkable decorated ceilings. 

Explore English heritage on Google Arts and Culture
A curator dusts a telephone

Teaching Resource: Curators’ Collections

We’ve asked our curators to delve into our collections and bring you the most interesting stories from across our sites. They highlight how objects can offer us windows into the past and a curator's role in making this happen.

Explore our site-specific pages to find out more about curatorial work and how we can use objects as sources to better understand the past. These pages are intended to support anyone learning about our sites and working with historical sources.

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A conservator works on a painting

Collections Conservation

The work of our conservators, conservation scientists and collections care assistants focuses on identifying, understanding and combatting the risks to our collections and interiors.

Discover how dedicated fine art conservators protect the many paintings, frames and decorative schemes in our collection. Find out how our conservation scientists protect objects and interiors from harmful environmental factors. You can also download our expert conservation notes and technical papers for advice and guidance.

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'step into englands story