GALLERY: Historic England opens its archive to celebrate 'Creativity Unwrapped'

By Jamie Hill - 9 August 2023

  • Silbury Hill, Wiltshire. Reconstruction image by Historic England’s illustrator Judith Dobie.

    Silbury Hill, Wiltshire. Reconstruction image by Historic England’s illustrator Judith Dobie.

Visit the Archive in Swindon’s Railway Village during Heritage Open Days on Saturday 9 September.

Judith will talk about her illustrations as part of the Heritage Open Days event on 9 September.

On Saturday 9 September, Historic England’s Archive will be open to the public for a special event as part of Heritage Open Days.

The FREE event is happening at Historic England’s National Office in Swindon’s Railway Village, starting at 11 am, with a bookable quiet hour taking place from 09.30 am to 10.30 am.

Inspired by the Creativity Unwrapped theme of this year’s Heritage Open Days, the day offers a unique opportunity to:

  • Hear from Judith Dobie, Historic England’s Graphics Officer and illustrator, about her archaeological reconstruction artwork of Silbury Hill, a Bronze Age monument in Wiltshire
  • Take part in games and creative activities, including collage-making, a demonstration from our conservation team, 3D modelling, and many more!
  • Tour The Engine House, a historic building once part of Swindon’s Great Western Railway works
  • See behind the scenes of our state-of-the-art Archive
  • Explore collections of our historical photographs

We are offering a bookable quiet hour between 09.30 am and 10.30 am for those who would appreciate a more relaxed and calmer before public opening. This is suitable for all ages and should be booked in advance using this link.

Aseye Negedu, Engagement and Volunteering Officer at Historic England, said: “The Creativity Unwrapped theme is perfect for us. Our Archive is bursting with examples of amazing creativity and innovation – from the earliest aerial photographs taken from hot air balloons to watercolour records made of medieval stained glass at risk from enemy action during the Second World War. Come along and enjoy them, and get creative with our games and activities, including a chance to make a collage from images inspired by our collection.”

Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture; every year, thousands of volunteers and supporters organise events that allow us to discover hidden places and try out new experiences. Brought to you by the National Trust, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and run by thousands of local organisations and volunteers, Heritage Open Days gives everyone free access to experiences and events across England, including access to many sites that usually charge for admission. For details and opening times, visit

Historic England’s Archive is a national collection of more than 12 million photographs, drawings, reports and publications from the 1850s to the present day. More than a million of the records can be searched online, including more than 400,000 images in the Aerial Photo Explorer. The collections help people to find out about the history of their home and local area and about buildings and archaeological sites, and provide a fascinating record of the way our landscape has changed over time.

Collage by AM, produced during a Picturing High Streets residency at Cafe 71 in Chester with Ciara Leeming and Open Eye Gallery. This image includes source material from the Historic England Archive.

The Historic England Archive is located in the former Great Western Railway Chief Mechanical Engineer’s and Drawing Office. Built in 1841 and now known as The Engine House, it is an important building in Swindon’s Railway Village and listed at Grade II.

Times and booking requirements

Historic England’s Archive will be open for Heritage Open Days on Saturday 9 September 2023 from 11 am until 4 pm, with last entries at 2.30 pm. Advance booking to come along on the day is not needed. However, booking is required for the four The Engine House and Archive tours at 11 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm and for Judith Dobie’s talks at 11 am and 1 pm. You should also book if you wish to visit during the quiet hour between 09.30 am and 10.30 am via Eventbrite:

Details about parking and accessibility are available on the booking page on Eventbrite and the Heritage Open days website:

For the Archive’s regular opening hours, please see the ‘Visiting Us’ page on our website

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