Welcome to my website and thank you for looking. This site tells you a bit about me and what I have done over the last 25 years as an historian, archaeologist, curator, writer, broadcaster, museum director and heritage crusader – although not necessarily in that order. It also tells you a bit about the rest of my life.

This website links to a separate one about Clifton House where my wife Anna and I live. It is open to the public at certain times of the year and you would be most welcome to come and visit it.

Latest News

Simon Takes up a Senior Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research

After leaving English Heritage I will be concentrating full-time on my research interests. In particular I will write, this year, my next book which is called Houses of Power. It is a history of architecture and etiquette at the Tudor and Stuart Court and it develops and expands much of the work that you will find in my books and articles section.

Simon steps down as chief executive of English Heritage after 13 years

On May 4th I stepped down from my post as chief executive of English Heritage. This was a long planned move connected with the  disaggregation of the organisation into two new bodies – a charity, which retains the brand name, the English Heritage Trust, and Historic England which will continue as a public body responsible for the heritage advisory and statutory functions. Duncan Wilson will take over as chief executive of Historic England and Kate Mavor at English Heritage. They are both outstanding people and I am certain that they will brilliantly lead the two new bodies over the next few years.

Stonehenge Wins a Europa Nostra award

Stonehenge Visitors CentreThe English Heritage Stonehenge project has won a presdigious Europa Nostra award. The Judges said ‘the opening of the Stonehenge visitor centre in 2013 was the fulfilment of many years of hard work to find a solution to traffic and visitor problems for this outstanding World Heritage Site. We admired the new building, designed by international architects, discreetly out of view of Stonehenge, and the interpretation based on major programmes of research into the archaeology and early history of the area. The partnership formed between English Heritage and the National Trust to manage the approaches to the monument is a fine example of cooperation between the UK’s two leading conservation bodies.

Kenwood House wins Georgian Group Award

Our project at Kenwood House has just won the Georgian Group award for the best restoration of an historic interior. There are not many awards around for restoring historic buildings so it is very nice to win one. This is the Duke of Buccleuch presenting the certificate to me.Simon recieves Georgian Award from the Duke of Buccleuch


Men from the Ministry out in paperback

menfromtheministryMen from the Ministry has just come out in paperback. I have been so pleased that a seemingly obscure subject has found so much interest, and has been so well received.

David Lowenthal said of it in the TLS recently ‘Thurley’s text- knowledgeable, subtle, supple, by turns celebratory and sardonic’. Very kind of him.

The new edition corrects various errors that were pointed out to me after the hardback was published and has much better captions to the photographs. So you might need to buy the paperback even if you have the hardback!

The Building of England

Cover of The Building of England by Simon ThurleyUpdate: The Building of England has won Spear’s Magazine Book Awards ‘Heritage Book of the Year 2014.

‘Substantial, well-written, well-illustrated and comprehensive history of architecture in England’ Frank Kelsall, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain

The Building of England is my latest book – published 15 November 2013. This is the product of four years’ work, an attempt to write a narrative history of building in England from 410 up to the Second World War. It is aimed at the general reader, but I hope that scholars and students will find it of use too. There is a little bit more about the book on my Books page.

A.N. Wilson, The Evening Standard ‘A truly stupendous achievement… an instant classic’

Michael Prodger, The Sunday Times, ‘This is an impressive book – for its scholarship, for its easy didacticism, for the care with which Thurley has thought things through, and for its inclusiveness’