Historic England Commissioners' Biographies

Biographies of the Historic England Commissioners.

Picture of Laurie Magnus

Sir Laurie Magnus


Sir Laurie Magnus was appointed Chairman of English Heritage on 1 September 2013 and remains Chairman of Historic England. Prior to this appointment he had been Deputy Chairman of the National Trust from 2005 to 2013 and an elected member of the Trust’s Council since 2003.

Sir Laurie is a Senior Adviser at Evercore Partners, the investment banking group, and holds a number of listed company non-executive directorships within the finance sector. He has over 40 years’ experience in the corporate finance advisory business, including in South East Asia.

In the not for profit sector, Sir Laurie is Chairman of the Windsor Leadership Trust, and a Trustee of the Allchurches Trust.

Sir Laurie is a member of Historic England’s Business and Finance Committee, Remuneration and Appointments Committee, and is a member of the English Heritage Board of Trustees.

Portrait of Mr ALex Balfour

Alex Balfour

Alex is Chief Executive Officer of Digital Brand Services UK Ltd, which helps some of the world's best known sports and entertainment brands grow their digital properties. He is also a senior consultant to TEAM which manages the commercial rights of the UEFA Champions League.

Previously Alex was Head of New Media for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) where he built a team from scratch that delivered 77 digital channels to 150m consumers. Alex has also served as Chief Digital Officer of the Engine Group, Chief Digital Officer of Haymon Boxing Management, and was a co-founder and Chairman of ESPN CricInfo.

Alex is an assessor for Innovate UK, a Commissioner of Historic England and a director of several businesses in the financial services sector including Credec and Datatracks (UK). He serves additionally on the Historic England Business and Finance Committee.

Picture of Nicholas Boys-Smith

Nicholas Boys Smith

Nicholas is the founding director of Create Streets, a social enterprise that encourages the creation of popular urban environments and strives for constructive public influence on the planning and development process.

Nicholas is currently leading planning, development and urban design-related projects for public sector, private sector and community group clients. He is the author of many public policy studies and is an occasional columnist in Building magazine. He has been described by the Architects’ Journal as a ‘leading figure’ on issues to do with the built environment.

Nicholas was appointed as a Historic England Commissioner in 2016.

Black and white portrait Professor Martin Daunton

Professor Martin Daunton

Martin Daunton is Professor of Economic History and Head of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences in the University of Cambridge, where he was also Master of Trinity Hall from 2004 to 2014. He was formerly Astor Professor of British History at UCL and President of the Royal Historical Society. He continues to write on economic and social history since the eighteenth century.

He has been active in the field of culture as chairman of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and a trustee of the National Maritime Museum. Martin was appointed as an English Heritage Commissioner in 2014. He sits on the Historic England Advisory Committee, is Chair of the Designation Review Committee and Deputy Chair of the Blue Plaques Panel.

Black and white portrait Ms Sandra Dineen

Sandra Dinneen

Until April 2019, Sandra was Chief Executive of South Norfolk Council, an area with over 3,500 listed buildings and 52 conservation areas within its boundaries. Sandra’s background is in economic development, regeneration and business development. She is also Managing Director of Big Sky, a property development and management company.

Sandra has a keen interest in education and inclusion and is a trustee of a Multi Academy Trust and governor of a further education college. Between 2015 and 2017 Sandra was the Chairman of the District Councils Chief Executive’s Network representing all 201 district councils in England at the national level. She continues to write occasional columns in the local government press.

Black and white portrait Mr Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer has been Chief Executive of Mind, the leading mental health charity working in England and Wales since May 2006.

He is Chair of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), the leading voice of the UK’s charity and social enterprise sector. Paul is also a trustee at Lloyds Bank Foundation which invests in charities supporting people to break out of disadvantage at critical points in their lives.

Paul was Chair of the NHS England Mental Health Taskforce which brought together health and care leaders and experts to create the current mental health Five Year Forward View for the NHS in England. He co-authored ‘Thriving at Work’ for the government, setting out how to transform mental health in work places.

Paul has an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of East London, is an Honorary Fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford, and The Royal College of Psychiatrists, and was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2016.

Black and white portrait Ms Victoria Harley

Victoria Harley

Victoria Harley is manager of Brampton Bryan Estate, Herefordshire, and concentrates on preservation and reuse of traditional historic buildings, together with landscape conservation.

Through links with the Historic Houses Association, she has wide experience in the management of historic houses. She was previously director of Sotheby’s Carpet Department and latterly a freelance consultant.

She served on the National Trust Midlands Advisory Board for seven years and was a trustee of the Offa’s Dyke Association.

She is governor of two schools. Victoria was appointed as an English Heritage Commissioner in 2014. She serves additionally on the Designation Review Committee, the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee and the Historic Estate Conservation Committee. 

Profile picture of Rosie-Marie MacQueen

Rosemarie MacQueen MBE

Rosemarie has over 44 years’ experience of urban planning, conservation, heritage management and regeneration. She has provided expert evidence on conservation issues to parliamentary select committees and her voluntary roles include 20+ years of service on the Georgian Group Executive Committee and as London Chairman of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. Rosemarie was awarded the MBE for services to Heritage in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Rosemarie was appointed as a Historic England Commissioner in 2016.

Picture of Neil Mendoza

Neil Mendoza

Neil is Provost of Oriel College, Oxford University. He is also a Non-Executive Board member at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Neil started working life as a banker at JP Morgan in New York before moving to film finance. He co-founded the pioneering publishing agency, Forward, spending much of his career as an entrepreneur and non-executive director in the film, design, software and technology sectors.

He is Chair of The Landmark Trust, Chair of The Illuminated River Foundation and Vice-Chair at Soho Theatre.

Neil was appointed as a Historic England Commissioner in 2016.

Photo of Michael Morrison

Michael Morrison

Michael Morrison has been a partner at architects Purcell since the 1970s. He was managing partner of the firm through the 1990s and Chairman through the 2000s overseeing an expansion of the practice across the country.

In 1989 he was appointed as the architectural advisor to the National Gallery and has continued working in the Museum and Gallery sector since then. In 2008 Michael opened the practice’s office in Hong Kong.

He has sat on the National Trust’s architectural panel and on Heritage Lottery Fund’s expert panel for Buildings and Land. Michael is a member of the ICOMOS Scientific Committee for Polar Heritage having completed conservation plans for Scott and Shackleton’s Huts in Antarctica in 2003.

In 2014 he was appointed as a Commissioner for English Heritage. He currently serves on the Historic England Advisory Committee, the London Advisory Committee and is Chair of the newly formed Historic Estate Conservation Committee.

Black and white portrait Mr Patrick Newberry

Patrick Newberry

Patrick holds a number of non executive directorships in the financial and professional services sectors, sitting on, or chairing, audit and risk committees. He was a partner in PwC for 25 years, working in the financial sector in the UK, USA and Continental Europe. He also served as a member of PwC's Supervisory Board, Chair of the Strategy, Governance and International Sub-Committee and a member of the Audit and Risk Committee. He was a board member and former President (2010-2011) of the Management Consultancies Association.

In the not for profit sector, Patrick is a Trustee of the Georgian Group, Chairman of The Cornish Buildings Group and a member of The Duchy and Bicton Agricultural Colleges Advisory Board and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Picture of Charles O'Brien

Charles O'Brien

Charles is an architectural historian and joint Series Editor of the renowned Pevsner Architectural Guides, for which he has revised volumes on East London, Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough and southern Hampshire.

Previously, Charles worked for the Historic Buildings Department of The National Trust in its southern region. He is chair of the London Advisory Committee as well as a member of Historic England’s Advisory Committee and Historic Estates Conservation Committee. He also serves on the Heritage and Arts Advisory Group of the Mercers Company.

Charles was appointed as a Historic England Commissioner in 2016.

Black and white portrait Susie Thornberry

Susie Thornberry

Susie is assistant director at Imperial War Museums where she leads public engagement for adults, young people, schools, and families across the five museums. Her extensive experience in arts, museums, and heritage includes roles with Historic Royal Palaces, Artichoke, and Battersea Arts Centre. In 2016, she was producer of London's Burning, a festival to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, including London 1666 a 120-metre-long sculpture created by hundreds of young Londoners which was spectacularly set alight on the River Thames.

Black and white portrait Mr Richard Upton

Richard Upton

Richard was the founder of the specialist regeneration property developer, Cathedral Group and was previously a co-founding director of Mount Anvil. He has extensive experience in the field of complex regeneration projects through the UK. He was appointed as Deputy Chief Executive of U+I the specialist regeneration property and investment business in July 2015, following the merger of Cathedral Group and Development Securities.

Richard has served as a member of Historic England's London Advisory Committee since 2012 and has campaigned extensively for sustainable restoration of heritage buildings, including the campaign to save Smithfield Market which he funded and fought successfully; the historic market buildings will now house the new Museum of London.

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