Historic photography

10 Portraits of England

Our Archive collection of over 9 million images contains some of the earliest photographs ever taken, and exists as an ever growing visual diary of our built environment. If you’re new to the Archive perhaps you’ll search the name of the area you grew up in, your old school, your favourite building or ancient monument. Dive into the further reaches of it’s collections and you may be surprised what you find.

Alongside images of the built environment are hundreds of portraits of people. Their facial expressions and clothes tell a story in themselves, but often we don’t actually know who they are.

Some of the people who appear in the Archive have names, and many have little or no description attached. Here are some of our favourites, from 1896- 2001.


A miner, South Crofty Tin Mine, Dundance Lane, Cornwall 1998 © Historic England AA000461


Two boys stood in Paddington station 1960- 1972 © Historic England AA062046


An elderly woman in a market in Shropshire, 1940- 50s © Historic England AA081568


Allotment holder Sohan Singh with onions and coriander, 2001 © Historic England AA026282


A child sat in a cot on the Clarence Ward at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London 1893 © Historic England Bl12178 001


Two people outside an unidentified house in costume, Northamptonshire, 1896- 1920 © Historic England BB98- 02467


A boat with crew master, Grimsby, Lincolnshire 1899 © Historic England AA97 05729


A young boy at Staithes Beach, North Yorkshire 1956 © Historic England AA083620


Three young girls outside a Methodist chapel, possibly a wedding. 1950-59 © Historic England AA054 085


Two Young boys in costume as Native Americans 1896- 1920 © Historic England BB98 10578


Create a unique, personal Christmas gift this year and support the work of Historic England. Choose from a range of beautiful archive images which can be made into high quality prints and gifts. There’s something for everyone, from striking landscapes and historical architecture to animals in the wild; trains, planes and automobiles; sports stadiums and works of art. Speedy delivery is available in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia.

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