London. Photograph from the River Thames showing construction underway on Tower Bridge in 1889. Glass plate negative. © Historic England Archive AA83/01325.


One of the largest photographic archives in the country, Historic England holds over 9 million photographs of the historic environment. Our photos also show many other aspects of life, from education and employment to leisure and transport.

The photos in the Archive date from the 1850s onwards. Some of the highlights include:

  • Country house photo albums by anonymous amateurs
  • Famous photographers, including work by Bill Brandt and Roger Fenton
  • Pioneering architectural photographers like Bedford Lemere and Company
  • Commercial photographers, such as Millar and Harris, John Gay and Eric de Mare
  • Thames Valley views by Henry Taunt
  • Survey photography going back 90 years, recording places from tiny cottages and workers’ houses to power stations and tower blocks

Specialist collections explore specific topics and themes from windmills and stationary steam engines to postcards of public parks. The pages below are a window on to the treasure trove of extraordinary images you can explore online.

England's Places

Discover photos of English cities, towns and villages from the Architectural Red Box Collection.

Picturing Lockdown Collection

A unique collection including photos from members of the public documenting their experiences of one week in lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic.

John Laing Photographic Collection

The John Laing collection provides a unique insight into the origins of iconic British buildings and the human effort that went into building them.

The Great Stink - How the Victorians Transformed London to Solve the Problem of Waste

In 1858 the stench of the Thames overwhelmed London. The ‘Great Stink’ brought the city to its knees. The solution changed its landscape forever.

Spending a Penny

Discover England’s public conveniences and their history. Uncover some surprising discrimination; and browse galleries of opulence and dilapidation.

The Rise of the Shopping Centre

This exploration looks at five shopping centres built by the Laing company, back when they were a favourite leisure destination for many people.

Back to School in the Mid-20th Century: Modernist Student Accommodation

The Historic England Archive holds collections of photographs that document 20th century architecture, including the innovative Modernist style.

Topical Press Agency Medical Collection

We've uncovered a remarkable collection of more than 4,000 medical images, deep within the vaults of our photography Archive.

Women Photographers in the Historic England Archive

Discover the women photographers whose work enriches the collections of the Historic England Archive.

Early Photographic Prints

A diverse collection of 22,000 prints showing architecture, people, industry and landscapes from the 1850s to the latter part of the 20th century.

The Shadbolt Collection

We recently acquired the earliest surviving aerial images of England taken by photographer and balloonist Cecil Shadbolt between 1882-1892.

The Maurice Barley Collection

Photographs of vernacular architecture in the East Midlands taken by the expert on the subject.

Julian Joseph Samuels Ltd

A collection of photographs of early 20th century London used for postcards.

Stained Glass Watercolours

About the Matley-Moore collection illustrating some of the finest medieval stained glass in England.

W J Day Collection

Photographs taken by the garden historian between 1890 and 1911

Andor Gomme Collection

The Andor Gomme Collection shows England's towns and villages during the 1950s – a period of rapid change.

Crosses to Flying Machines

Some quirky and interesting images discovered in the Historic England Archive

Harper Collection

A collection of 1,100 drawings made by C G Harper to illustrate his travel books have recently been catalogued.

Marshall Keene and Co

Photos of 1920s and 1930s schools, hospitals and religious buildings from a collection that we've just finished cataloguing.

LMS Collection

Historic England Archive has conserved, digitised and catalogued 1,600 glass plate negatives of the London Midland and Scottish Railway Collection.

Lichfield in Colour 1869

Rediscovered - the earliest colour photos in the Historic England Archive.

Small Collections

A variety of small but interesting collections from the 1860s have been catalogued recently.

Building the Barbican

The Historic England Archive holds images of the Barbican re-development, which has become an important part of England’s architectural history.


Archive Services

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