Historic Estate Conservation Committee Biographies

Biographies for the members of the Historic Estate Conservation Committee.

Michael Morrison

Michael Morrison is one of the Senior Principals in the Purcell partnership. He joined the practice as an assistant surveyor for Ely Cathedral and over the past 30 years he has been responsible for a wide range of major projects on behalf of the National Trust, the National Gallery, the British Museum and many public and private clients.

From 1990 - 2002 he was the managing partner of Purcell and followed this with eight years as the Chairman. During this period he oversaw the major expansion of the practice from five regional offices to the present arrangement of a major office in London and 12 regional studios. His work has included Conservation Management Plans for a wide variety of buildings from the British Museum on the one hand to Scott’s Hut in Antarctica on the other. He currently leads the team of 12 in-house Heritage Consultants.

Michael was a member of the National Trust’s Architectural Panel for ten years and a member of National Lottery Heritage Fund’s expert panel on buildings and land for six years. He is currently one of the Trustees of the Greenwich Foundation; he is a Governor of the Building Craft College in the London Borough of Newnham and is an Associate Professor in the Architecture Faculty of Hong Kong University. Michael also serves on the Historic England Advisory Committee and is Chair of the Historic Estate Conservation Committee.

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.

Professor Helena Hamerow

Helena Hamerow is Professor of Early Medieval Archaeology in the Faculty of History and the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford. She is also a Fellow of St Cross College, where she was Vice-Master from 2005-2008. She served as Head of the School of Archaeology from 2010 to 2013, during which time she served on the Board of Visitors of the Ashmolean Museum and the Board of Curators of the Bodleian Libraries. She is a former President of the Society for Medieval Archaeology and Vice-President of the Royal Archaeological Institute.

Her research interests lie in the economy, villages and farming practices of rural communities in northwest Europe during the Early Middle Ages. Helena is on the Board of Directors of Oxford Archaeology, on the Board of Visitors of the Pitt Rivers Museum, and is an elected member of the Council of the University of Oxford.

Ms 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.

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.

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.

Merlin Waterson, CBE, FSA

Merlin Waterson is an architectural historian and author of books on social history, conservation and philanthropy. His most recent book, published by RIBA in 2019, is Rescue and Reuse: Communities, Heritage and Architecture. He joined the staff of the National Trust in 1970 and was Regional Director, East Anglia from 1981 to 2002; and Director of Historic Properties from 2002 to 2004. In 1996 to 1997 he was seconded to the Heritage Lottery Fund, to be Policy Adviser on Built Heritage and Historic Properties.

Merlin is on the Advisory Panel of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and is a trustee of Wentworth Woodhouse. He has been a Commissioner, and Deputy Chairman, of the Royal Hospital Chelsea; Chairman of the Architectural Heritage Fund; a trustee of Stoneleigh Abbey; and on the management board of Quarry Bank Mill, Styal. In 2005 he was awarded the CBE for services to heritage. He is a Member of the Society of Wood Engravers and exhibits regularly in this country and abroad.


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 - 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 - 2010 and Head Conservator from 2002 - 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.

Was this page helpful?