England’s historic environment includes a countless number of abbeys, castles, ruins, stately homes and palaces -- including sites such as Stonehenge -- but the questions of how we are to choose what should be preserved, how we should do it, and of what effect this will have on our idea of England and its history are ones which governments cannot ignore, as much as they might want to.
The story of heritage between 1997 and the present day is one of the clash of politics, history and ideals. From boom to bust, Dr. Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, describes the story of the changing views of preservation under the successive government administrations and how this has affected the historical heritage of England.
Visiting Gresham Professor of the Built Environment and a leading architectural historian, Dr. Thurley is a regular broadcaster on television and radio and is the Chief Executive of English Heritage, the Government's principal advisor on the historic environment in England.
English Heritage aims to protect and promote England's historic environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood. It manages what is in effect the national collection of ancient monuments and historic buildings, with the 400 and more sites ranging from Stonehenge to Dover Castle. Within this, Professor Thurley is particularly interested in making heritage protection fairer and more effective, and in making sure that England's heritage plays a positive role in improving the quality of people's lives.
Prior to joining English Heritage in 2002, he served as the Director of the Museum of London, the world's largest city museum. Between 1990 to 1997 he was the Curator and Main Board Member of Historic Royal Palaces, the organization is responsible for Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House, Whitehall and Kew Palace.
He is Honorary Fellow and Visiting Professor of London Medieval History at Royal Holloway, University of London, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society. He is an honorary member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. He is and has been the President of a number of archaeological and historical societies and is Chairman of the Society for Court Studies and serves on the Council of St. Paul's Cathedral. He received his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, where he wrote on English Royal Palaces 1450-1550.