We are the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England's spectacular historic environment.
The Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP, Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has appointed five new Commissioners of Historic England.
As the governing board, the Commission has direct responsibility for the work of Historic England and also has overall responsibility for the National Heritage Collection, which is managed by the English Heritage Trust on its behalf.
I am delighted to welcome David, Jane, Jonathan, Nairita and Robert as Commissioners. They all bring extensive experience in areas of Historic England’s work and join at an exciting time of challenge and opportunity as we promote the important role of heritage as a catalyst for regeneration in delivering levelling up and a vital contributor towards achieving net zero. My fellow Commissioners and I much look forward to working with them.
Commissioners are appointed by the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, for their skill or professional standing in one or more areas of expertise.
Nairita Chakraborty, Lady Jane Gibson, David Laing, Sir Jonathan Marsden KCVO, FSA and Robert Sackville-West have been appointed for a four-year term from 1 July 2022 until 30 June 2026.
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.
After graduating from Hull University with a degree in Drama & English in 1985, Jane worked in theatre, film, television, radio, the record industry and marketing and PR in London. During this time she was housekeeper to Doris Lessing the novelist.
She moved to the North East in 1996 where she established Joined Up North, a consultancy business specialising in strategic development, regeneration and place marketing though culture, heritage and tourism projects.
Following a move back to her home county of Yorkshire in 2009 she is now working in non-executive roles. Jane is chair of Spirit of 2012, the London 2012 legacy charity, founded by the National Lottery Community Fund in 2013 with a £47m endowment. She also chairs the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site Partnership Board. She is a director of the York & North Yorkshire LEP.
She was founding chair of Make It York, a destination management and business development company and until recently she chaired the Culture & Place Strategic Advisory Group in Hull. She also served on the Regional Committee of National Trust Yorkshire & North East until 2014.
David’s background is steeped in the built environment, in heritage, culture, governance and ethics. He trained as an architect at UCL and worked with Sir Basil Spence before forming a private practice, and chairing a quoted housing development company. He completely restored the grade I house and gardens of Mackerye End, and then the 17thc house and historic park and garden at Fermyn Woods Hall.
He is chair and trustee of major philanthropic charities as well as those supporting heritage, community, culture, the arts and the environment. In contrast he led the development of Adrenaline Alley; Europe’s largest indoor skate/bmx park and home to the GB Olympic medallists. The charities have supported the restoration of the Royal Albert Hall, Coventry and other cathedrals, commissioned Denny windows a Jim Butler bronze at Barrow-in-Furness, and a ballet for the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
He is Pro-Chancellor of the University of Northampton, and was the Lord Lieutenant for Northamptonshire from 2014-2020 looking to develop awareness of and the interests of the county with its buildings/heritage/culture and economy. He has chaired academy trusts and been a trustee of one of the largest multi-academy trusts and also St Andrew’s Healthcare.
His 4th book of poems will be printed later this year!
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.
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.
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.
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