Mirth, Mayhem and Marvel: A Brief Introduction to Music Halls

‘The scent… of music halls everywhere – the scent of wood and grease-paint and spilling beer, of gas and of tobacco and of hair-oil, all combined… later I heard it described, by theatre managers and artistes, as the smell of laughter, the very odour of applause.’  Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet England’s long history of building grand indoor spaces for socialising and entertainment began with the music halls of the early Victorian era. Originating as an extension of the saloonRead more

7 Sensational Sites for Eliza Doolittle Day

‘One evening the King will say ‘Oh, Liza, old thing, I want all of England your praises to sing. Next week on the twentieth of May, I proclaim Liza Doolittle Day’. My Fair Lady Written by Joe Flatman, Head of Central Casework and Programmes at Historic England For those who love the musical play and film My Fair Lady, the 20th May is celebrated annually as Eliza Doolittle Day: a light-hearted commemoration of all things musical-related. This 20th of MayRead more

10 Historic Urban Prisons

At the State Opening of Parliament today, a key announcement in the Queen’s speech concerned the closure of ‘old and inefficient’ prisons. The government, in its Autumn Spending Review, announced proposals for a major prison building programme that will allow the closure in the future of a number of historic, urban prisons. In recent years around a dozen have already closed, and over the past 200 years dozens of historic prison buildings have been put to new uses ranging fromRead more

5 Things You Need to Know About Listing

Written by Emily Gee, Head of Designation at Historic England How did listing start? Listing emerged as a legal system of protecting England’s most precious buildings during the Second World War.  The first lists were compiled as an emergency measure to identify what should be protected in post-war rebuilding. The next generation of more systematic lists on a geographical (parish) basis were heroic in their scale, but inevitably quite brief in their descriptions and often done from the road, sometimesRead more

England’s Lost Asylums

For centuries, mental illness was regarded as a spiritual affliction rather than a medical one; thankfully social attitudes have changed. The treatment of people with mental illness can be traced through the institutions that cared for them, some of which provide us with a fascinating insight into medical history. The concept of an asylum now is outdated, and many former institutions have been repurposed numerous times since their inception in the early 19th century, but those with special architectural interestRead more

A Brief Introduction to… Garden and Park Structures

Have you ever wondered about that grand mansion set into the hills of your local park or public garden? Perhaps there are the crumbling remnants of what looks like some kind of castle or fort? You may have considered where these structures came from and why they’re still there, existing in a seemingly original and potentially repurposed state. A large number of such structures are protected by listing, and when identified can tell a story about their locality and howRead more