8 Historic London Shopfronts

London streets are lined with colourful shops, clamouring for our attention. Many are of considerable age, and have survived for our enjoyment only through careful maintenance by generations of shopkeepers. Kathryn Morrison, Head of Historic Places Investigation, selects eight shopfronts that can be appreciated by anyone strolling along the pavements of London, and offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history as one of the world’s most exciting shopping centres. Presented chronologically, these shopfronts show how our shopping streets haveRead more

8 Sites of Importance in the History of Black Music in Britain

Throughout November, Historic England has been supporting the BBC ‘Black and British’ season with a series of new listings that celebrate Black British history. In this (by no means exhaustive) list we look at some of the most important buildings and places in the history of music by artists of black origin. Greenwich Palace – Tudor Music Coming to London at the beginning of the 16th Century, the trumpeter John Blanke is one of the earliest recorded black people to have livedRead more

A Brief Introduction to UK World Heritage Sites

This week is the 30th anniversary of the meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, which inscribed the first seven sites in the UK on the World Heritage List. The additions adhered to the agreement made by member states of UNESCO in 1972, (called the World Heritage Convention) which had an inspiring concept at its heart: There are some places of outstanding universal value to all humanity, for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a wholeRead more

Christmas Gifts for the Person who has Everything   

We’ve got Christmas covered this year with a selection of gift ideas to help you surprise someone special and support the work of heritage organisations. 1. Pick a place they love Create a unique, personal gift and support our work. Our dedicated online gift shop has a huge range of beautiful images – from striking landscapes and historical architecture, to animals in the wild, trains, planes and automobiles; sports stadiums and famous works of art. There’s something for every interest, with speedy deliveryRead more

A Brief History of Burial

As religious beliefs and the location of human settlements have developed over time, so have our burial rites and memorials to the dead. Our knowledge of these rituals is instrumental in understanding the communities which have inhabited England throughout our known history. Sites such as the recently uncovered Anglo Saxon cemetery in Norfolk, in an excavation by archaeologists from MOLA and funded by Historic England, open up the history of our attitude to death and inform the protection of theseRead more

5 Black Heroes of the Abolition Movement in Britain

British businesses and institutions amassed huge wealth through their direct involvement in slavery. By the late 18th century popular revulsion at the horrors of slavery was growing – fuelled by a vociferous and organised abolition campaign. Freed slaves, and men and women who had travelled to England from Africa, the Caribbean islands and America played a crucial role in the campaign to stop slavery. This week, in the second episode of BBC TWO series Black & British: A Forgotten History,Read more

5 Memorials that Chart Life and Loss in the First World War

There are few towns or villages in Britain that do not have a public memorial to commemorate those who died in the First World War; a sobering testament to the scale of the loss involved in the conflict. In Britain, around six million men were mobilised, and of those just over 700,000, or 11.5%, were killed. Over half a million men who served in the British army have no known graves. There are more than 100,000 war memorials in the UK. TheyRead more

Black and British: Uncovering a Forgotten History

David Olusoga’s Black and British is a revealing exploration of the extraordinarily long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa, published to accompany the landmark BBC Two series which begins this week. Historic England has collaborated with the BBC and partners on Black and British, a season of programming and events celebrating the achievements of black people in the UK and exploring the rich culture and history of black Britain. Here, in extracts taken from his newRead more

The Mysterious Case of the Witch Bottle

In the 16th and 17th centuries, many people believed in witchcraft, and blamed ill-fortune such as their crops failing or the death of a loved one on a witch’s curse. People would do anything to ward off an evil spirit, from creating counter-curses to marking their doorways to keep the witches out. Nowadays we enjoy stories of magic and witchcraft as a part of English folklore, knitted into the history of our historic places, many of which may still holdRead more

7 Spooky Tales from England’s Haunted Castles

Many of England’s historic buildings and monuments set an inspiring backdrop for mysterious tales of paranormal activity, their rich heritage feeding into narratives passed through generations. This Halloween we’re taking a look at how tales enjoyed at this time of year, of witches, ghosts, vampires and ghouls are knitted into English folklore, making their mark on our culture and historical places. Here are 7 spooky stories linked to some of England’s oldest castles. The Vampire of Alnwick Castle, Northumberland WritingRead more