A change of name and a new identity
Historic England is the more user friendly name for the Historic Building and Monuments Commission for England.  The Commission was established in 1984 and was originally known as HBMC then more recently as English Heritage.  Since April 2015 Historic England has sought to establish its own identity and remains responsible for England’s historic environment.  It is a public body, funded by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, ultimately reporting to the Secretary of State.

English Heritage Trust was formed in April 2015 as a charitable trust responsible for some 400 properties which form the “national collection”.  It is responsible not only for the maintenance of some of England’s most iconic buildings but also looks after the associated marketing, visitors and “tourism”.

The national collection started with a broad range of historic buildings under the stewardship of the Office of Works in 1882, which was the department responsible for architecture and historic buildings.  In 1913 parliament passed an act which gave the Office of Works the powers to protect the most important sites and buildings that were in essence the history of England.  Initially their priority was prehistoric and medieval sites and by 1933 there were 273 sites afforded their protection.  Today this elite group of buildings are amongst the jewels in England’s “crown” attracting visitors from all corners of the world to sites across the country and London in particular.

Historic England is now at the forefront of identifying buildings and structures that are at threat today as well as enforcing the legislation that appertains to listed buildings.  In its first year of operation particular focus has been placed on identifying Second World War buildings, art, sculpture and military buildings as WWII gradually fades from living memory into history.

In January 2016 Historic England listed 41 pieces of public art, most of which are freestanding and include works by Gormley, Moore and Hepworth.  However, one cannot help but wonder what the impact will be where the works of art are attached to a building as this would imply the building too will now be listed.  Furthermore, in a throwaway society how long does a building have to stand before it is deemed necessary to protect it through the listing system?  This will doubtless be one of many questions the new Historic England will be focussing on as it develops its new identity.