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Researching heritage assets in your local area

To find information about heritage assets in your area, try exploring the following websites:

Dorset Explorer provides existing information on Dorset’s historic environment, including designated assets such as conservation areas and Historic Environment Record (HER) entries.

Heritage Gateway - quick search provides further information on HERs, as well as online access to some of them.

National Heritage List for England provides the most up to date information on England’s designated heritage assets

Dorset History Centre is an invaluable repository of information on the local area. They have a searchable online catalogue for their archived resources and can also provide information and help researching a particular area.

Poole History online is a free online database of photographs, documents and data relating to the local history of the Borough of Poole.

Extensive Urban Survey is a national project to survey the archaeology, topography and historic buildings of England’s historic towns and cities.

Dorset Historic Towns Survey covers 21 towns across Dorset and includes information on their history and development as well as identifying some individual assets of heritage significance.

Vision of Britain Through Time takes a high-level look at places. It has historic statistics for areas – such as population, election results, census reports – as well as some historical maps and travel writing.

National Character Area Profiles provide an invaluable overview of the natural and built environment of each area.

Victoria County History (VCH) is a project that aims to write the history of every county in England, covering topics such as topography, landscape and the built environment.

Britain from the Air provides online access to aerial photographs of Britain from the 1940s to 2009.

Flickr is a is a photo-sharing platform and social network where users upload photos for others to see.

Facebook history groups are social media networks where people share local nostalgia and historical images.

Instagram is a free social media programme for sharing images and videos.

If your asset is a war memorial, then the War Memorials TrustWar Memorials Online and Imperial War Museum websites are full of information, covering both designated and non-designated examples across the country.

Finding out how old an asset is

This part of the research on your asset can be tricky; sometimes there is no definitive answer. Checking for an HER entry through Dorset Explorer or Heritage Gateway is a good place to start.

Historic OS maps can also help you narrow down date ranges for your asset, or at least confirm that if it is pre-19th century in date. The National Library of Scotland has digitised a range of historic OS maps across England as well as Scotland, which are free to view.

If your asset is a building, structure or landscape, then you may be able to estimate the date based on its type, detailing or layout.

Finding out more about the significance of heritage assets

Accompanying the selection guides are a series of documents called Introduction to Heritage Assets. These provide more detailed information on specific types of heritage assets. Unlike the selection guides, they do not consider what makes an asset eligible for listing or not, but instead set out current understanding of the asset type and its history.

Historic England has produced selection guides for different types of heritage assets.

If your asset has associative value with a particular person, there may be more information on that person on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Access to this database can usually be obtained with a valid local library card.

Find out if the asset you want to nominate is already nationally designated

Historic England’s website will allow you to check whether the asset you want to nominate is already designated as:

  • a listed building
  • scheduled monument
  • registered park and garden

You can do this by searching an asset address or by using the map search function using the links on this Historic England page.


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