Dickens at Christmas: 7 places to visit around the UK

Is there any novelist more closely linked with Yuletide than Charles Dickens? His story, A Christmas Carol, was an instant hit in 1843 and helped make Christmas fashionable again. It remains hugely popular, with its perennially relevant call for greater kindness and the end of greed. It’s perhaps less well known that Dickens wrote about Christmas many times, often with radical intent, and without the sweet gloss the Carol would get from later adaptations. To help you explore what theRead more

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

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

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

Can social media help us better understand our relationship with historic buildings?

Cities are carpeted with pictures, but these pictures are not public art or the work of a subversive street artist. They are the geo-tagged photos continuously being uploaded to sites like Flickr and Twitter. This is creating a new world to explore. A world which could change how we think about the built environment and its heritage. We know that people engage with heritage (around half the adult English population visit for pleasure a historic town or city in aRead more