Historic Estate Conservation Committee

The Historic Estate Conservation Committee monitors and advises Commission on the conservation and maintenance of the properties within the National Heritage Collection.


Katy Lithgow - Chair

Nairita Chakraborty
Nick Cox
Bob Croft
Tobit Curteis
Matthias Garn
Jon Gedling
Victoria Harley
Professor Ronald Hutton
Andrew Lawrence
Professor Elizabeth Laycock
Robert Sackville-West
Sarah Staniforth CBE


English Heritage Trustee: Eloise Francis

English Heritage Trustee: Sir Jonathan Marsden KCVO, FSA
(also Historic England Commissioner)


Nairita Chakraborty

Nairita has over 16 years of experience in heritage, townscape and design. She has experience in ensuring sustained use of historic buildings whilst delivering large scale regeneration, housing and infrastructure projects. She has produced significant work on the adaptation and conversion of large and complex listed buildings, as well as town centre, public realm, and conservation area schemes.

She has recently set up her own practice Revive and Tailor which focuses on integrating existing buildings within regeneration proposals innovatively and resourcefully. Nairita is a member of Historic England's Advisory Committee alongside Havering and Kensington and Chelsea’s Design Review Panels. She is a full member of the Royal Town Planners Institute and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

Tobit Curteis

Tobit Curteis is the Managing Partner at Tobit Curteis Associates LLP and specialises in the conservation of wall paintings, architectural structures and collections, and the investigation and control of historic building environment.

Tobit is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the International Institute for Conservation. He is an accredited member of the Institute of Conservation, the Advisor on Wall Paintings for the National Trust, and a consultant and research collaborator for Historic England.

Recent projects include research and development for conservation and environmental controls at St Paul’s Cathedral, The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, The Palace of Westminster, York Minster, the Hypogeum Hal Saflini in Malta and the archaeological sites at Paphos, Cyprus. He regularly publishes and lectures on environmental and conservation issues.

Matthias Garn

Matthias has worked in the stone industry for 30 years. Following his apprenticeship in Dresden, Germany, he worked in a number of stonemasonry and carving workshops in Europe before moving to England in 1998 to work for Wells Cathedral Stonemasons and then for Dick Reid’s workshop in York.

Matthias has run his own stone business- specialising in the conservation and repair of historic stone structures since 2004. He is a German Master in Stonemasonry and Stone Carving, a member of the Worshipful Company of Masons, a Freeman of the City of London and an SPAB Fellow.

He is a frequent lecturer, teacher and advisor in the field of historic stone conservation.

Jonathan Gedling

Jon is Director of Works at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), where he is responsible for overseeing the care and upkeep of the CWGC’s memorials and structures around the world and setting the policy and direction for the global conservation approach of the organisation.

Jon is a Chartered Building Surveyor and has worked in private practice and for various client side organisations specialising in the management of historic estates. His background has been particularly focussed towards managing major conservation projects and in previous roles he was Assistant Property Manager for the Royal Household Property Section and Chief Surveyor at Eton College. Jon also acts as an Assessor for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Victoria Harley

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

She was appointed as an Historic England Commissioner in 2014, retiring in 2021.

Through links with the Historic Houses Association, she has wide experience in the management of historic houses. She is a member of Hereford Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee, and served on the National Trust Midlands Advisory Board; previously, director of Sotheby’s Carpet Department and a freelance consultant.

Professor Ronald Hutton

Ronald Hutton is the senior Professor of History in the University of Bristol, the Gresham Professor of Divinity at London, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries, the Learned Society of Wales, and the British Academy.

He has held a number of public posts and is currently a member of the Historic Estate Conservation Committee of Historic England. He has published 18 books and 94 essays on a wide range of subjects including British history between 1400 and 1700, ancient and modern paganism in Britain, the British ritual year, and Siberian shamanism.

Andrew Lawrence

Andrew is a Chartered Structural Engineer and a Director of Arup, where he helps lead a team of both existing building and timber specialists including structural engineers and material scientists, working on a wide range of projects both new and old, in the UK and overseas.

In the field of timber, he is also Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Timber Engineering at Cambridge University and lead author for the new edition of ‘Appraisal and Repair of Timber Structures’ published by the Institution of Civil Engineers, which is one of the definitive works on the assessment of historic timber.

In addition, Andrew represents the UK at European level in helping to write the new cross-European regulations for both timber and existing structures.

Professor Elizabeth Laycock

Liz is Professor of Stone Conservation at Sheffield Hallam University in the Division of the Natural and Built Environment. Her role here is split between teaching across the undergraduate and postgraduate Built Environment program and undertaking research. She is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London, and a Member of the International Masonry Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Establishment. She served on the CEN (European Standards) working group on the Evaluation of methods and products for conservation works between 2011 and 2020. She sits on the Council of the International Masonry Society.

In the past she has undertaken research to evaluate stone intended for repair and conservation of the Palace of Westminster courtyards; to identify the source of the limestone used for mortar in Hadrian’s Wall; to produce Collyweston limestone tiles; to reduce penetrating water in historic solid masonry church towers and to assist in the selection of replacement stone for Truro Cathedral. Her current research interests are in the evaluation of the methods to enhance flood resilience of historic brick masonry exposed to flooding.

Katy Lithgow

Katy Lithgow is an accredited conservator with over 35 years of experience in the conservation of collections and historic interiors, specializing in preventive conservation, wall painting conservation, and conservation management. She is an Accredited Conservator-Restorer (ACR) and member of Icon, a Fellow of the International Institute of Conservation (FIIC), and an external examiner for the Institute of Archaeology.

After studying Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Art at Cambridge, Katy gained a Postgraduate Diploma in Wall Paintings Conservation from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London where she returned as Course Co-ordinator following an internship at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She worked for the National Trust for over 27 years as a preventive conservator, Wall Painting Conservation Adviser, Conservation Advisers Manager, and from 2005 Head Conservator. She has also served as a Trustee of the National Heritage Science Forum, and as Chair of the PACR scheme’s Accreditation Committee, and participated in a variety of national and international research projects and networks.

Since August 2019, Katy has been freelance, consulting, publishing and lecturing on wall painting conservation, preventive conservation, conservation management, cleaning, interpretation in conservation, heritage science and sustainability, conservation ethics and professional standards.

Robert Sackville-West

Robert Sackville-West studied at Oxford University, where he read History, and at London Business School, before a career in publishing, creating illustrated books for an international market. As executive chair of Knole Estates, the property and investment company which – in parallel with the National Trust – cares for Knole, he has experience of land management, planning, conservation management, listed buildings and public access.

Since 2021, Robert has also chaired the Kent Community Foundation, which raises money for and distributes grants to, some 400 volunteer-based charities in Kent. He has been involved with education in both the private and state sector, as a governor at Sevenoaks School and Knole Academy, and as a former UK board director of the International Baccalaureate. He is Vice-Chairman of the Royal Oak Foundation, the US-based fund-raising affiliate of the National Trust.

Robert has a great interest in British history and is committed to communicating that interest. His experience at Knole led him to write two critically acclaimed books on aspects of English history: Inheritance (2010); and The Disinherited (2014). His most recent book, The Searchers (2021) is broader in scope. Telling the stories of Britain’s quest to recover, identify and honour the missing soldiers of the First World War, it tackles the enduring impact on British society of the First World War.

Sarah Staniforth CBE

Sarah Staniforth has a number of non-executive roles. She was elected President of IIC in January 2013. She is currently a Trustee of the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, the Pilgrim Trust and the Landmark Trust, and a member of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West Committee, the Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission, the Gloucester Diocesan Advisory Committee and Arts Council England’s Museum Accreditation Committee. She is a Fellow of IIC, the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society of Arts.

From January 2011 to June 2014 Sarah was Museums and Collections Director at the National Trust. She was also a director of National Trust Enterprises and continues as a Director of Historic House Hotels of the National Trust. She was Historic Properties Director from 2005 to 2010 and Head Conservator from 2002 to 2004. She joined the National Trust in 1985 as Adviser on Paintings Conservation and Environmental Control. Before that she worked in the Scientific Department of the National Gallery for five years.

Sarah was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2015.


Sir Jonathan Marsden KCVO, FSA

Jonathan Marsden was Director of the Royal Collection and Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art from 2010 to 2017, having previously served as Deputy Surveyor since 1996.  Prior to this he worked for the National Trust for eleven years as a Historic Buildings Representative in North Wales and Oxfordshire.  He has served as a trustee of several arts and heritage organisations including Historic Royal Palaces, the Georgian Group, the Art Fund and the City & Guilds of London Art School.  He has published and lectured widely on sculpture and the decorative arts and is the author of the forthcoming catalogue of European Sculpture in the Royal Collection.

Eloise Francis

Eloise was appointed as an independent member of the English Heritage Audit & Risk Committee in February 2019 and has extensive real estate, property management and construction project experience.

She joined Legal & General Capital as Head of Operational Risk in 2019 and has risk oversight across all of Legal & General Capital’s operations, including those of its five businesses (CALA Homes, L&G Modular Homes, L&G Affordable Homes, L&G Suburban Build-to-Rent, and Inspired Villages Group). Eloise joined Legal & General from Royal Mail where she was Director of Risk and Compliance for their property business which provided insourced property and facilities management services across the Royal Mail estate.

As a trained civil engineer and chartered health and safety professional, Eloise has worked across the property, construction and infrastructure sector for over 20 years and has supported clients and led businesses in their approach to risk management, governance and compliance.

Eloise is well-connected across the construction and property sector and has been proactive in leading the industry forwards in its approach to health, safety and wellbeing, and more recently enterprise risk and sustainability. This has included representation at key industry forums and presenter at industry conferences/webinars. Most recently, Eloise has been elected to CONIAC, the construction industry advisory committee that supports the HSE, and is Trustee of an independent prep school in Sussex.


Meeting dates

2024: 16 January, 1 May, 10 July, 23 October

If you would like to obtain copies of any meeting papers, please email us at [email protected]

Declarations of Interest

Registers of Interest are maintained for Commission, the Historic England Advisory Committee, the London Advisory Committee and for the Historic England Executive Team. They record any significant, ongoing interest that a member may have and are reviewed by the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee twice each year.

If a member has an interest in a specific case to be discussed at a meeting this should be declared at the start of the meeting and recorded in the minutes.