England has plenty of historic buildings and architecture that help it retain some of that old-world charm. The British Listed Buildings register is an online database of all the buildings and structures that are considered to be of historic and of special architectural interest. This guide lets you know the official listing data as well as allow you to see the building’s location on a map. You can also see it in Google Streetview, if available. There are a few reasons why this register is important: to give you information if you want to see some historic sites or to know if you live in a building that’s considered to be historic. Buildings in Wales, England, and Scotland are maintained on this list.
You might also want to check out: Listed buildings map: all the listed buildings in England
What Types of Structures and Buildings are on the British Listed Buildings Register?
Most of the sites that you can find on this list are buildings, but this list is not exclusively about just buildings. There are other structures that are listed on the British Listed Buildings register including war memorials, sculptures, bridges, and monuments. There are even important milestones and mileposts that are included. You may even be surprised to know that the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing made famous by The Beatles are on this list.
History of the British Listed Buildings Register
Ancient, uninhabited, and military structures are often classified as “scheduled monuments” that are protected by older legislation. One example of this is the Stonehenge. A limited number of these were protected under the Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882. However, they were reluctant to tell owners of restricted properties about what they could do to their own property. The bombings during World War II by the Germans eventually led them to list buildings that had particular architectural merit that deemed certain protections.
Creating the list
Between the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Royal Institute of British Architects, 300 members were asked to create a list of these buildings of merit under the supervision of the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments. This project was funded by the treasury. The original intent of this list was to decide whether or not a building should be rebuilt should it be damaged during these bombings.
Developing and improving the list
A more comprehensive act was developed using this older practice called the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, which covered Wales and England, and the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1947, which focused on Scotland. In 1972, this practice was introduced to Northern Ireland by the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1972.
Listed buildings are considered to be of “special and historic importance” while ancient monuments are considered of “national importance.”
What it takes to be listed
Buildings considered for listing or delisting need to go through a process that starts with applying to the secretary of state. Learn more about getting any property listed in this section.
Applying for listed status
Historic England reviews submitted applications to consider whether to list a property or not. To apply for the listing or delisting of a building, you don’t actually need to be the owner of the building. The Historic England website has all of the information that you could possibly need to learn about the process, including guidance on how to fill out the application. Historic England also assesses buildings to apply for this protected status as well.
What can get listed
Practically anything can be listed on the British Listed Buildings Register; this list is not exclusively buildings. Any structure or building of historic interest can be listed and can come in a variety of different types. To accommodate this, Historic England has 20 broad categories as well as guides to help assess the various buildings and structures.
About Listed Buildings
There are 3 types of listed status for these buildings in Wales and England: Grade I, Grade II*, and Grade II. Grade I is the label for buildings that are considered “of exceptional interest.” Grade II* refers to important buildings that are considered to be more than just of special interest, while Grade II is of special interest. Grade I is the highest level, meaning every effort to preserve the buildings is necessary. Listed buildings can account for about 2% of the building stock in England. As of March 2010, there were nearly 374,000 entries on the list. Grade II buildings make up 92% of all listed buildings, with Grade I making up only about 2.5%.
Age and rarity
There are specific criteria for listed buildings in addition to just being of historic or architectural interest or being associated with significant events or people. One part of this is the age and rarity of the building. A building is more likely to be considered listed the older it is. All buildings that were built prior to 1700 are listed. A majority of the buildings erected between 1700 and 1840 will also be listed. After this time, the selection process for listed buildings is more strict. For example, buildings less than 30 years old rarely become listed.
The building also needs to have “aesthetic merits”, meaning that the appearance needs to have visual interest. It should also be of national interest, which means that the buildings are distinctive or significant to the region. The state of repair of the building is not a relevant consideration when deciding on a building’s listing. Imminent changes which can affect the historic charm and character of the building may also be grounds for an emergency listing. An emergency-basis listing may usually be done when the building is in danger of being demolished or altered.
Extent of protection
A building’s listed status does not just apply to the exterior of the building. This also refers to the various aspects of the interior, including the fittings, fixtures, and objects within the building. Buildings can be delisted, but this rarely happens.
Why This Matters
Knowing whether your property is listed is important because this means that you have strict guidelines to follow. You are not able to do much with your property without special permission from the local planning authority. Thanks to the British Listed Buildings Register, you can search for properties to find out if your property is listed. You may also check out other amazing listed structures on your way.
This article was written on behalf of Boulton & Boyce by Pieter Boyce. Pieter has an intense passion for English Architectural history and has been specialising in the conservation of original wooden windows and doors for decades. His exceptional knowledge of timber windows and doors, both listed or non-listed, is attributed to his hands-on approach to learning all aspects of the complete restoration of original features as well as having personally surveyed thousands of items throughout his long tenure as a head surveyor for one of the largest window and door restoration companies in the UK. He now runs a boutique wooden window and door consultancy and fervently champions the retention of original windows and doors. To learn more of Pieter’s services, visit his website at www.boultonboyce.co.uk.