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Frequently asked questions

Here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions

The Images of England project

Q. What is Images of England? A. Images of England is a 'point in time' photographic record of every listed building in England. It was created by the National Monuments Record (NMR), now known as the English Heritage Archive, and is one of the largest free digital image libraries in the world with over 320,000 images. Each image, where possible, is shown alongside the February 2001 List Descriptions for each building.

Q. What do you mean by 'point in time'? A. Images of England is a snapshot of the buildings listed at the turn of the millennium; it's not an up-to-date record of all currently listed buildings. The listing status and descriptions shown on the Images of England website are the listings as at February 2001. Any amendments to the listings since that date are not included on this website.

The photographs accompanying the listings have been taken between 1999 and 2008. The images will not be retaken if changes are made to the buildings.

Q. How was Images of England funded?
A. The project was funded by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Q. Who's the website aimed at?
A. Anyone with access to the internet will be able to find out information about local buildings and discover the range and variety of England's listed buildings at the touch of a button. Schools, Conservation, Family History and Local History groups have an invaluable resource at their fingertips. The photographs preserve the diversity of England's architectural heritage for future generations.

Q. What written information accompanies the photographs?
A. Images of England displays the image of the building with its relevant written List Description from 2001. The lists, which are written by historic building experts within English Heritage on behalf of the Secretary of State, are public documents and give an architectural description of each building including the address. The lists are maintained by English Heritage, on the Listed Buildings database, which forms the backbone to this website.

Q. How were the photographs taken?
A. The photographs were taken by hundreds of volunteer photographers. This huge photographic survey started in 1999 and was completed at the beginning of 2008. Many of the volunteers were members of The Royal Photographic Society or local camera clubs across England. Volunteers were fully briefed and then allocated a number of listed buildings to photograph in their local area.

Q. What benefits did the volunteer photographers get?
A. The photographs taken give an invaluable and unique insight into how England's architectural landscape looked at the beginning of the 21st century. Without the enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers this website would not exist.

The photographers own the copyright on all images taken for Images of England, licensing English Heritage to use the images. The volunteers were given film and processing, as well as their travel expenses. All images on the website are credited to the appropriate photographer.

Q. What type of photographs were taken?
A. All photographs were taken from publicly accessible land unless permission was granted to photograph from private land. Photographers were asked to capture a single 'defining image' of the exterior of each Listed Building.

Each 'defining image' aimed to show the architectural character of the building, indicate its historical function and suggest its context, and to provide a truthful image, of a high technical quality, which showed as much visual information about the subject as possible. The photographers were limited to one frame per building and used standard 35mm photographic equipment and colour negative film.

Many of the listed structures, due to their size, position or location, were difficult to photograph. This meant that, in some circumstances, in order to make sure we created as comprehensive an archive as possible, we've included photographs which may not always match the criteria for our desired “defining image”. Although these images don't reflect the overall quality of the Images of England website and the work of English Heritage they're still valuable in illustrating what these listed buildings looked like at the beginning of the 21st Century.

Q. I have a collection of architectural photographs - would they be of any use to you?
A. We are only able to include in our collection those photographs taken specifically for Images of England by our volunteer photographers.

You may wish to consider offering the material to a local studies library or records office which serves your area. Details of these can be obtained through the relevant local authority.

English Heritage also accepts photographic collections relating to historic buildings, but has a particular focus on collections which are national in scope or concentrate on a particular type of building. If you'd like to know more about the NMR's acquisitions policy or are interested in discussing your collection as a possible deposit, then please contact the Archive Aquisitions Officer, English Heritage, The Engine House, Fire Fly Avenue, SN2 2EH. Click here to send an e-mail.

Q. An Images of England volunteer took a photograph of my house; when will I be able to see it on the website?
A. All photographs of an acceptable quality are now showing on the website. If your house has been photographed but there is 'no image available' then, unfortunately, the final image did not pass our quality assurance checks.

Q. My house hasn't been photographed yet; can you let me know when it will be photographed?
A. All photography is now completed. If your property was not photographed it will not now be included in this photographic survey.

Q. Why are some records showing 'no image available'?
A. There can be a number of reasons why there is 'no image available'; the building may no longer exist or, perhaps, cannot be found, it may be that the listed building or structure was on private land and permission was not granted for photography to take place, in some cases the photograph taken may not have passed the quality assurance process to be included on the website. Also, if a house owner had asked to be included in the exemption scheme, the image will be held in the English Heritage Archive rather than available on the website.

Q. Why do the photographs of Prisons look different to other Images of England images?
A. It's illegal to take or attempt to take a photograph of any building which is, or is associated with, one of HM Prisons. Listed Prisons have recently been photographed with permission from the Prison Service as part of a major recording project by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (now part of English Heritage). So Images of England has as comprehensive a record as possible it's these photographs which are being used as the volunteers were not able to take photographs of the prison buildings themselves.

Q. Do the historic buildings of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have a similar on-line photographic library?
A. There's no direct parallel to Images of England in these countries but to find out more about similar initiatives please contact the following organisations:

The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments in Scotland (RCAHMS)

Historic Scotland

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW)

Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments

Environment & Heritage Service, Northern Ireland

Q. Why do I need to register to carry out an Advanced Search?
A. So we can monitor how the data on the website is used we ask people to register with us first before carrying out detailed searches. As a security measure we're holding individual account information on users who register to carry out an Advanced Search – this allows us to monitor any potential misuse of the data. See Privacy Policy.

Q. Will the website be updated to include new Listed Buildings?
A. The objective of Images of England was to create a point-in-time record of the listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. A snap shot of the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest was taken in February 2001. There are no plans to include buildings which have been listed after this date on the website.

Images of England is not the statutory record. For information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.

Local authorities also provide details on the listing status of buildings in their area and should be your first point of contact for advice relating to planning issues.

Q. Is there a 'crib sheet' for architectural terms which are mentioned in the List Descriptions for each building?
A.English Heritage maintains an online architectural thesaurus at: http://thesaurus.english-heritage.org.uk/thesaurus.asp?thes_no=546.

There are a number of publications that explain architectural terms, including the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture by J Fleming, H Honour and N Pevsner (Fifth Edition 1999), the Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture 900-1914 by J Lever and J Harris (Faber & Faber 1987) and A Dictionary of Architecture by James Stevens Curl (Oxford University Press 1999).

Can I order prints of my house?
A.Specific photographs taken for Images of England are not available to buy. However selected images can be bought at: http://www.englishheritageprints.com

Please note that the inclusion of a listed building on this website does not mean it is open to the public.