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Timeline of Conservation Catalysts and Legislation

A history of listing since 1560.



Elizabethan proclamation forbade "the defacing or breaking of monuments of Antiquity, and repairing as much of the repair as conveniently may be"


Robert Redhead attempted to demolish Clifford's Tower, resulting in protests that it was an 'ornament to the City' and a landmark along with the Minster.


Inigo Jones surveys Stonehenge for first time.


The High Cross of Bristol, deemed to be 'a public nuisance,' was dismantled instead of being demolished and later re-built in the picturesque landscape of Stourhead.


Society of Antiquaries of London received its Royal Charter, having held its inaugural meeting in 1707, for the 'encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries.'


British Museum was founded.


Thomas Rickman published the first treatise discriminating styles of English Gothic architecture, introducing the now familiar terms of Norman, Early English, Decorated, etc.


Cambridge Camden Society founded to undertake restorations, their first project was St. Peter's Church, Cambridge. The Society moved to London in 1845 and changed its name to the Ecclesiological Society, publishing The Ecclesiologist from 1841-1868.


British Archaeological Association (BAA) founded to promote the study of archaeology, art and architecture and the preservation of national antiquities in Britain.


Protection of Works of Art and Scientific and Literary Collections Act.


John Ruskin published Lamp of Memory.


Public Statues Act made Commissioners of Works guardians of London statues.


Union of Benefices Act passed, under which the Church of England was empowered to demolish redundant churches and sell the sites to finance church expansion into suburban areas.


The RIBA established a Committee on the Conservation of Ancient Architectural Monuments and Remains, which subsequently published a pamphlet entitled General Advice to the Promoters of the Restoration of Ancient Buildings.


Northumberland House, a Jacobean mansion in Trafalgar Square, was served with a compulsory purchase order by the Metropolitan Board of Works for a new street development; protest ensued and the scheme was dropped; scheme revived however and house demolished in 1874.


Commons Preservation Society founded.


Commissions of Works Sir Henry Layard respond to a parliamentary question asking what he was doing about the protection of ancient monuments by asking the Society of Antiquaries to make a list of 'such regal and other Historical tombs or Monuments as in their opinion it would be desirable to place under the supervision of the Government,


Royal Commission on Historic Manuscripts founded.


Sir John Lubbock's Bill first introduced into parliament, inspired by threats such as to Avebury's stone circle. The so-called 'monumentally ancient bill' would not become law for almost a decade.


Campaign to fight the demolition of the Hampstead's Georgian parish church, St John-at-Hampstead led by George Gilbert Scott, Jr. and G.F. Bodley.


Society for Photographing Relics of Old London founded.


The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) founded by William Morris, primarily to resist the C19 restorations of medieval churches that were seen as dishonest, particularly Scott's proposals for Tewkesbury Abbey. Their arguments for preservation would include vernacular buildings of fine craftsmanship as well as major monuments.

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Several battles at the beginning of this decade, including the ploughing-up of Romano-British Dyke Hills at Dorchester on Thames and the offer of building plots for sale amongst the stones at Avebury.


First Ancient Monuments Protection Act:

  • Established a schedule of 50 state 'protected' monuments, all of which were prehistoric. Roman, Medieval and occupied buildings were not yet included on the list.
  • These were not directly protected, but if the owner wished to dispose of them, the government could acquire the monuments for caretaking by the Office of Works.
  • Archaeologist General Pitt-Rivers appointed as the first Inspector of Ancient Monuments.


The London and South Western Railway requested permission to construct a line from Amesbury to Shretton. This would have passed Stonehenge 'at a distance of 600 yards, and would have destroyed a number of barrows and affected the setting of the Monument by running diagonally along the Cursus and crossing the Avenue on a high embankment.


The City of Chester obtained powers to protect its medieval walls by an Act of Parliament, followed a few years later by similar action in Colchester and Newcastle.


London Building Act passed, limiting height of buildings to 80ft., which played a crucial role in the development of London for next 60 years.

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The Survey of London established, with remit of creating a systematic inventory of buildings and monuments in London.


The National Trust founded by Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Rawnsley. It acquired its first building: Alfriston Clergy House, a 14th-century thatched Wealden Hall House in Sussex the following year.


The Lady published a piece on what to do with inherited historic buildings, popularising the more academic approach to conservation and repair as espoused by William Morris and others.


Country Life first published, featuring one country house in each issue.


London County Council Act:

  • Gave the LCC the power to acquire ancient monuments and buildings of 'architectural and historic interest' by compulsory purchase, the first building purchased was 17 Fleet Street, a 1611 tavern incorporating the Inner Temple Gateway, restored in 1905-6.


A new road was built between Holborn and the Strand, the Kingsway Scheme, involving wholesale destruction of existing streets, although two churches in the Strand were preserved.

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First volume of the Survey of London published, covering Bromley by Bow, with C. R.


Victoria Country History first published.


Ancient Monuments Amendment Act:

  • Allowed inclusion of Romano-British and medieval monuments on the schedule, but maintained the exclusion of ecclesiastical buildings and occupied dwellings.
  • Northamptonshire acquired the Eleanor Cross at Geddington and Scarborough Corporation acquired a lease of the castle.


Lord Curzon helped to legislate the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1904 in India.


The Care of Ancient Monuments published by Gerard Baldwin Brown argued that Britain lagged behind other countries in its heritage legislation.


Royal Commissions were established, one each for Scotland, England and Wales, with the remit of preparing inventories of pre- 1700 structures and sites worthy of preservation.



Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire threatened with dismantlement and removal to the U.S., revealing the limits of the then legislation to protect buildings. However, Lord Curzon bought the building and later reclaimed the chimneypieces that had been removed and the building stayed in England.


Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act:

  • Introduced a degree of compulsion, requiring owners of scheduled monuments to give one month's notice of their intention to carry out works, and allowing the Minister to impose a Preservation Order to prevent works.
  • Set up an Advisory Board of academics and experts to advise on criteria for deciding if a monument was of national importance, including examples from the 'Stone Age to the development of industry.'
  • Ecclesiastical exemption introduced, initially covering the Church of England and later expanding to include other denominations.
  • A small fine and the cost of repair or a term of imprisonment were introduced to penalise the damaging of ancient monuments.


75 Dean Street, one of a block of Georgian terraces in Soho, London, and believed to be the home of Sir James Thornhill with fine wall paintings, was threatened with demolition. The house had been uninhabited and thereby at the time was placed under a Preservation Order, serving as a test case. The owner petitioned against the order and the Committee reported against the Parliamentary Bill, after having been told that the owner's costs would be payable out of the annual ancient monuments grant. The house was later dismantled and the staircase and dining room later acquired by the Art Institute in Chicago.

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First meeting of the Central Committee for the Protection of English Churches and Their Treasures, established by the Diocese Advisory Committees for the Care of Churches.


Ancient Monuments Society founded.


Royal Fine Arts Commission established.


Demolition of Sir John Soane's Bank of England began.


Council for the Protection of Rural England founded in response to interwar campaigns to save the countryside from the effects of the motorcar. Architect Guy Dawber, planner Patrick Abercrombie and architect Clough Williams-Ellis were key figures in the campaigns.


Bishop of London attempted to demolish 19 City churches, only thwarted by joint efforts of the City Corporation, the LCC and SPAB.


Norwich council, on the advice of the SPAB, purchased Elm Hill, and anticipated the Preservation Order that would be legislated in the 1932 Act.


The landscape surrounding Stonehenge threatened by possible sale, which led to public outcry, and a fundraising campaign set up by the Stonehenge Protection Committee and the National Trust for its purchase.


Publication of Clough Williams-Ellis' England and the Octopus, the first popular book wholly about the preservation of architecture and the built environment.


The Elizabethan Montacute House, Somerset, was the first country house given to the National Trust.

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Conservation campaigns at the beginning of the decade at Stonehenge, Avebury and Hadrian's Wall focused on the natural and archaeological settings of these monuments, rather than the fabric of the monuments themselves.


Ancient Monuments Act:

  • Empower local authorities to set up preservation schemes to protect monuments and their surroundings, thereby introducing the concept of the conservation area into protective legislation.


The National Trust for Scotland is founded.


Town and Country Planning Act:

  • Introduced Building Preservation Orders to be served by local authorities on threatened historic buildings, with compensation to be paid if Minister of Works failed to uphold the order.
  • Included occupied dwelling houses for the first time.


John Betjeman's Shell Guides founded, primarily to draw attention to Georgian and


Inspired by Clough Williams Ellis' England & The Octopus, the Ferguson Gang, an anonymous group of Blue Stockings began a five-year campaign to raise money for the National Trust and to save historic buildings.


The demolition of the brothers Adam's 1768 Adelphi, the first great Georgian riverside speculative scheme in London.


'How we Celebrate the Coronation', a pamphlet arguing against the destruction of London's historic buildings was published by Robert Byron in the Architectural Review.


The Georgian Group founded by Lord Rosse and Robert Byron, with Lord Derwent as its first chairman, to advocate the preservation of buildings dating from 1714-1830s.


Clough Williams-Ellis edited Britain and the Beast, a much broader treatment of environmental issues.


National Trust launched the 'National Trust Country House Scheme' and Country Life published list of 639 houses worth preserving.


The City of Bath Act passed to help preserve the character of the 18th century city in the face of threats to its early town planning.


Wren's All Hallows, Lombard Street demolished for its site value but with the condition that its tower be re-erected. This was carried out at All Hallows, Twickenham in 1939-40.


The first open air museum in Britain opened at Cregneash, Isle of Man.


Diocesan Advisory Committees, established to give expert advice to the Chancellor on the aesthetic and historical aspects of petitions for Faculty, become statutory.

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Aerial bombardment during World War II brought widespread destruction of many buildings and prompted the preparation of salvage lists. These would be used as a guide by planners reconstructing towns and cities after the War.


The National Buildings (later Monuments) Record founded by Walter Godfrey, John Summerson and Cecil Farthing to undertake the first graphic record of England's buildings.


The Council for British Archaeology founded.


Town and Country Planning Act:

  • Moved responsibility for historic buildings from Ministry of Works to the new Ministry of Town and Country Planning.
  • Provided for comprehensive lists of historic buildings thought worthy of preservation, for local authorities to consent note when preparing plans.
  • Required owners of listed buildings to give two months notice of proposed works.


Salvage lists prepared by architects under a scheme initiated with the RIBA.


Under section 42 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1944, 'Instructions to investigations for the listing of buildings of special architecture interest' published, including discussions of 'special interest' by John Summerson.


National Land Fund (later the National Heritage Memorial Fund), a government initiative to purchase objects and sites in memory of the war dead, established.


On 1st August, Gosfield Hall, Essex was the first building to be spot-listed.


Town and Country Planning Act:

  • Obliged Minister to compile lists for the first time. Theses were only advisory and published for the guidance of local authorities.
  • Required local authority to issue a Building Preservation Order in order to protect a building.
  • Introduced more specific criteria and the system of grading.


First general list published, for 5 parishes in the Rural District of Blofield and Flegg,

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The Gowers Report published, recommending (but not followed through) that owners of particularly outstanding country houses should be eligible for tax and death duty relief to offset the considerable costs of maintaining these buildings.


The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) founded.


Creation of the Peak District National Park.


The Festival of Britain celebrated Britain's revival after the War with new architecture on the South Bank and nationwide cultural celebrations.


First volume of Nikolaus Pevsner's Buildings of England Series published, covering Cornwall.


Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act:

  • Established grant schemes for the repair of historic buildings and ancient monuments, to be administered by the Historic Buildings Council and the Ancient Monuments Board.


Temple of Mithras discovered in London during excavations for a new office building, capturing the public's imagination.


Howard Colvin's Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 first published.


48 country houses demolished this year, nearly one a week, marking the C20 peak of country house demolition.


W.G. Hoskins' The Making of the English Landscape published.


The Civic Trust founded by Duncan Sandys to raise awareness about the effects of town planning and redevelopment on the historic environment. Their first street improvement scheme in Norwich, was begun the following year.


Victorian Society founded to promote the awareness and preservation of nineteenth and early-twentieth century buildings.

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Philip Hardwick's 1837 Euston Arch, the first monument to the railway age and the largest Greek propylaeum ever built, was demolished for the redevelopment of Euston station, resulting in public outcry. A similar uproar erupted over demolition of J. B. Bunning's 1846-9 Coal Exchange on Lower Thames Street for a road-widening scheme that was not carried out. These two demolitions mark the change in public opinion to favour the preservation of 19th-century architecture.


Local Authorities (Historic Buildings Act):

  • Enabled local authorities to offer grants towards the repairs of listed or unlisted buildings.
  • Included for the first time churches in ecclesiastical use.


Sill Hill Hall, Solihull, a 17th-century timber-framed building listed under the 1947 Act, was demolished without being referred to the local planning authority. The maximum punishment at this time was £100 although this would be much increased under the 1968 Act.


Civic Amenities Act:

  • Steered through Parliament by Duncan Sandys, MP, who had founded the Civic Trust
  • Introduced Conservation Areas, areas of architectural or historic interest, which local authorities were instructed to compile and amend.
  • Underlined the importance of lesser buildings when they were part of a group.


Town and Country Planning Act:

  • Gave all buildings on the list statutory protection for the first time.
  • Required owner to obtain Listed Building Consent from the local planning authority for works which would alter the building's character, with certain cases (such as total demolition and buildings owned by local authorities) to be referred to the Secretary of State.
  • Increased the penalty for unauthorised works.
  • Introduced notification of the five amenity societies (SPAB, Georgian Group, Ancient Monuments Society, Victorian Society and Council for British Archaeology, as well as the RCHME).
  • Introduced repairs notices for neglected buildings.


Four large conservation reports (for York, Chester, Lincoln and Bath) commissioned by Lord Kennet of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and published under the common title of 'A Study in Conservation'.


Redundant Churches Fund (later the Churches Conservation Trust) is founded to revise the strategy for dealing with redundant Anglican places of worship.


Nationwide resurvey of listed buildings begun, with first completed survey in 1969


Nikolaus Pevsner suggests fifty Modern Movement buildings for listing, thirty-seven of which (including Sir Owen Williams' 1932 Boot Factory in Nottinghamshire), were added to the list.


First Walsh report recommended the establishment of County Sites and Monuments Records and Field Monument Wardens.

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Town and Country Planning Act:

  • Empowered local authorities to designate conservation areas.
  • Permit Local Authorities to serve repairs notices on owners of listed buildings and to follow up with compulsory purchase where necessary


RESCUE, the British Archaeological Trust founded


Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market relocated, leaving the buildings empty and planners keen to redevelop but a local campaign saved the buildings from demolition.


Field Monuments Act introduced a system of payments to landowners with scheduled


Adam Fergusson's The Sack of Bath: a Record and an Indictment published, graphically highlighting the demolition of Georgian buildings in Bath.


'Destruction of the Country House' exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum after publication of John Cornforth's report 'Country Houses in Britain' articulated the difficulties of the legal and financial situation for country house ownership.


Town and Country Amenities Act strengthened protection of Conservation Areas by requiring specific consent from the local authority for demolition or radical alteration.


European Architectural Heritage Year


SAVE Britain's Heritage founded by a group of journalists, historians, architects, and planners to campaign publicly for endangered historic buildings. 'Satanic Mills', a major exhibition and publication of 1980, highlighted industrial buildings, and was followed by further publications of building types and conservation issues.


Spitalfields Historic Building Trust founded out of a squatting campaign within Nos. 5


Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act:

  • Consolidated ancient monument protection legislation dating back to 1882.
  • Initiated the system of grant of consent for works to Scheduled Monuments.
  • Introduced 'archaeological areas' whereby developers obliged to allow access to archaeologists, but without funding.


United Kingdom Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (UKIC) granted autonomy (having been a regional group of the IIC since 1958).


The Thirties Society founded to encourage the appreciation and preservation of buildings constructed between the two World Wars. In 1992, it was re-named the Twentieth Century Society with an expanded remit.

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The demolition of Wallis Gilbert's Firestone Factory without consent over bank holiday weekend led to widespread public outcry and initiatives to protect exemplary buildings of the inter-war period.


National Heritage Memorial Act provided financial assistance for the acquisition, preservation and maintenance of lands, buildings or structures deemed important to the national heritage.


The Historic Buildings Committee of the Department of the Environment recommended a further 150 inter-war buildings for listing.


On Michael Heseltine's initiative, Accelerated Resurvey of listed buildings was planned and funded, with inspectors and fieldworkers beginning their work the following year. Stage 1 by county councils begins in 1981 and stage 2 by private consultants begins in 1984.


Association of Conservation Officers founded, and re-formed in 1997 as the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC).


Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA) founded.


National Heritage Act:

  • Established English Heritage as the government's lead advisor on the built historic environment in England
  • Obliged Secretary of State for the Environment to consult English Heritage on listing matters, and to refer certain applications for listed building consent for advice.


Register of Parks and Gardens established.


Cadw, the historic environment agency within the Welsh Assembly Government, founded.


Cadw included the first post-war building, the Brynmawr Rubber Factory, on their statutory list.


The Greater London Council abolished and responsibility for historic buildings in London transferred to English Heritage.


Dept. of the Environment Circular 8/87 removed the 1939 ceiling on listing buildings. It introduced the 'thirty year rule' by which any building over thirty years could be considered for listing, and the 'ten-year rule' by which any building over ten years old that was threatened and of outstanding interest (listable at grade I or II*), could be considered for listing.


Bracken House in the City of London (built 1955-59 by Sir Albert Richardson) was the first post-war building in England to be listed, saving it from demolition. A further 18 post-war buildings were listed the following year.


Remains of the Rose Theatre discovered while excavating for a new office development. This prompted a campaign resulting in a re-worked design of the new building to allow for the remains to be protected


Fieldwork for Accelerated resurvey of listed buildings completed


Historic Royal Palaces established as an agency of the Department of the Environment (now DCMS) to manage the 5 major palaces no longer in regular use. In 1998, Historic Royal Palaces became an independent charity.

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The Town and Country Planning Act 1990:

  • Defined the planning powers of local authorities and provided guidance to be given by the Secretary of State.


PPG 16: Archaeology and Planning:

  • Defined the government's policy on archaeological remains on land, and how they should be preserved or recorded both in an urban setting and in the countryside, insisting on proper consideration given to archaeological remains in the planning process.


Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990:

  • Consolidated previous legislation for 'buildings and areas of special architectural interest' so that general planning legislation is separated from conservation legislation.


Historic Scotland created.


The Willis Faber and Dumas building in Ipswich (built 1972-75 by Foster Associates) was listed, the first under the 'ten-year rule'


Start of thematic listing of Post-War buildings.


National Lottery Act enabled grants for heritage projects from the lottery funds.


PPG 15: Planning and the Historic Environment:

  • Defined the Government's policies for the identification and protection of historic buildings and conservation areas, and the role played by the planning system in their protection.
  • Established policy of assessment for the wider landscape.


Ecclesiastical Exemption Act:

  • Allowed ecclesiastical buildings that are for the time being in ecclesiastical exemption from listed building and conservation controls.
  • The safeguard was an undertaking from the Church of England that its historic buildings would be subject to a separate Church system of control which takes account of the historical and architectural importance of churches.


Heritage Lottery Fund established.


Register of Historic Battlefields established.


RCHME and English Heritage merged.

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'Power of Place: The Future of the Historic Environment', a review of historic environment policy was published by English Heritage


'The Historic Environment: A Force for Our Future' response published by the DCMS.


'State of the Historic Environment Report' published - the first in a series of annual reports (under the title of Heritage Counts) by English Heritage for The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).


National Heritage Act promoted the public's 'enjoyment of, and advancing undertaking of, ancient monuments in, on and under the seabed'. It added 73,000 square kilometres to English Heritage's zone of activity.


'Protecting our historic environment: Making the system work better' consultation document was published by the DCMS


DCMS 'Review of Heritage protection: the way forward' published.


Institute of Conservation (Icon) established through the merging of 5 professional conservator bodies (including UKIC) to become the primary organisation representing conservators within the UK.


English Heritage given direct responsibility for the administration of the listing system, which now included formal notification of owners for the first time.


The White Paper Heritage Protection for the 21st Century was published, proposing fundamental changes to the designation system.


English Heritage published its Conservation Principles, Policies, and Guidance for the sustainable management of the historic environment. The first Listing Selection Guides are published, setting out broad approaches to designation.


Limited consultation with owners on facts of a case was introduced, enabling details to be challenged.

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The National Heritage List for England is launched, bringing all of the national designations together on a computerised and publicly-searchable database for the first time. The internal Unified Designation System is introduced, replacing separate casework systems for different designation regimes.


English Heritage adopts a more strategic approach to designation casework to enable more focus on strategic priorities in the National Heritage Protection Plan (NHPP). Applications will only be taken forward where the asset is under threat, fits into a current strategic project or is of evident significance.


The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act (ERRA) enables changes to the 1990 Act to allow certain exclusions to the extent of listing, where appropriate, at the point of designation.


On 1 April English Heritage separated into two organisations - Historic England and the English Heritage Trust, a new independent charity that will look after the National Heritage Collection. Historic England continues as an arms-length body that looks after the wider historic environment, including listing, planning, grants, research, advice and public information.


The introduction of Historic England's Enhanced Advisory Services (12 October) offered four new services that provide enhancements to our existing free planning and listing services. Three of these relate to listing services, including Fast-track listing (where listing recommendations are sent to the DCMS in a quicker and guaranteed timeframe), Listing Enhancement (providing greater clarity over the extent of statutory protection in a guaranteed timeframe) and Listing Screening Service (an assessment of an area and indication of assets that would warrant assessment statutory Listing)


From 7 June, Enriching the List will allow amateurs and professionals to add heritage information and photographs to a separate layer of the National Heritage List, an initiative intended to expand the knowledge available in particular for older, briefer List entries.

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