The First British Bungalow

Single storey dwellings under the name Bungalow have been around since the mid-19th century. The bungalow became both a symbol of bohemianism and the building type of choice for the aspiring upper middle class seeking an affordable second home in which to enjoy the new concept of ‘the weekend’. Dr Andy Brown, Planning Director at Historic England, takes us through the mysterious origins of the bungalow in Britain. The first modern British bungalows were designed by little-known English architect,  JohnRead more

A Changing Climate: Water, Flooding and Historic Buildings

Water. We can’t live without it. Throughout history living near water has been important for almost every aspect of human life and for the resources and raw materials that rivers, lakes, wetlands and the sea provide. But living in close proximity to water is not without its challenges. In 2009 The Environment Agency estimated that 1 in 6 properties in England (5.2 million) were at risk of flooding.  There are 1.8 million people currently living in areas at significant riskRead 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

A Brief Introduction to…Vernacular Houses

First things first, what is a vernacular house? These are houses built to reflect local customs and traditions using locally available materials like wood, stone and brick. They are ordinary, rather than monumental buildings and so different from region to region that they are a vital part of England’s local distinctiveness, defining the country’s much-loved landscape. Some of these simple houses are now listed and celebrated as nationally important. They are irreplaceable evidence of how our ancestors used to live, build andRead more

Innovation and the Country House

When you visit a country house open to the public, look beyond the elaborate plasterwork, elegant furniture or collections of Old Masters and ask how the family and their servants lived from day to day in such houses. Innovative technological advances of the time where adopted, and can still be found on display, particularly in those country homes which have now opened up their servants’ quarters to the visiting public. Here are 6 objects which contributed to comfortable living:  Written byRead more

If Street Furniture Could Talk

Street furniture probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of protected heritage. But our high streets and country lanes would be a poorer place without the milestones, lamp posts, horse troughs and bollards that collectively remind us of how very different from today our streets once were. As our busy roads are adapted to accommodate modern transport schemes, these small elements can easily be swept away. Significant pieces are protected by listing so they remainRead more

9 Reasons to Look Up in Yorkshire

You may think you know a place well, but if you take the opportunity to look up, you may be surprised at what you discover. To celebrate Yorkshire Day (1st August), Emma Sharpe, Assistant Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas, gives us her pick of 9 reasons to look up in Yorkshire. 1. Leeds’ Abandoned Skywalk Grade II listed Bank House in Leeds is an architecturally adventurous example of the Bank of England’s 1960s building program. It has an interestingRead more

How to do… Buildings Archaeology

Buildings: we live and work in them, use them and ignore them. But are they wallpaper to you or are you fascinated by them, their design and their history? We can all enjoy buildings more with an archaeological approach and here are some tips on how to interpret, analyse and record them. You’ll soon know your crucks from your plinths… Written by Lucy Jessop, Senior Investigator, Historic England. Header Image: Avon Mills, Malmesbury, Wiltshire. 1. Investigation We look closely at buildingsRead more

Bring Your Home’s History to Life

From the research she was able to carry out locally and online, Kate Bevan paints a fascinating story of her home, the first inhabitants, and the beginnings of Swindon. In my last post I wrote about discovering who used to live in my house in Swindon in the first years after it was built, c1877. I was particularly interested in the Cannon family, who had moved into the house around 1890. Joseph, his wife Louisa, and their six children. By lookingRead more

Who lived in your home?

In this third installment of Kate Bevan’s Finding Your Home’s History we find out about her home’s first inhabitants and we also discover an interesting similarity in their daily commute.  In my last post, I found out a little bit more about the structure and fabric of my house – how it was built and what the different rooms were originally used for. I also discovered a Christmas card addressed to ‘Louisa’ and dated 1897. I really wanted to find outRead more