Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act 1913

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The Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act 1913 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that aimed to improve the protection afforded to ancient monuments in Britain.


The Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882 had begun the process of establishing legal protection for some of Britain's ancient monuments; these had all been prehistoric sites, such as ancient tumuli. The Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1900 had continued this process, empowering the government's Commissioners of Work and local County Councils to protect a wider range of properties. In 1908 a royal commission concluded that there were gaps between these two pieces of legislation, and the Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1910. These were felt to be unwieldy, and the Ancient Monuments Act repealed all three in 1913, replacing them with a new structure.[1]

One of the main sponsors of the bill was the former viceroy George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, who saved Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire in 1911. Until then, owners of a building could do with it as they pleased. The experience left a deep impression on Lord Curzon, who became determined that new laws had to be put into place to protect Britain's heritage.[2]

The new structure involved the creation of the Ancient Monuments Board to oversee the protection of such monuments. Powers were given for the Board, with Parliamentary approval, to issue preservation orders to protect monuments, and extended the public right of access to these. The term "monument" was extended to include the lands around it, allowing the protection of the wider landscape.[3]


By 1931, over 3,000 monuments had been listed with preservation orders, and over 200 taken into public ownership. Gaps in the legislation remained, however, leading to the passing of the Ancient Monuments Act 1931.[4] However, both the 1913 Act and the 1931 Act were repealed in full by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.[5]

Ecclesiastical Exemption[edit]

A component of the 1913 Act which remains controversial to the present day is the Ecclesiastical Exemption from listed buildings control, covering all ecclesiastical buildings in ecclesiastical use. Subsequently, the Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Order 1994 confined the Exemption to denominations deemed to have suitable internal control mechanisms in place: the Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Baptist Union of Great Britain.[6] Some heritage bodies have urged the Exemption’s abolition, arguing that it facilitates irreparable damage to historic church interiors in the name of renovation. Howell and Sutton (1989) argued on behalf of The Victorian Society:

‘The maltreatment of churches is facilitated by the existence of the so-called “Ecclesiastical Exemption” . . . It is greatly to be hoped that this anomalous situation will soon be rectified. The Victorian Society has strongly urged the total abolition of the exemption for all denominations.’[7]

The Church of England General Synod has expressed the ecclesiastical position:

'Those who minister in churches and those who have responsibilities in relation to the maintenance of churches and their contents, should rightly be conscious of their part in ensuring that churches are indeed "living buildings". This may often result in a desire to alter the interior of the church in some way to make it more suited to modern worship. You may also seek to add facilities, such as toilets, kitchens or meeting rooms, either within the building or by extending it.'[8]


  • Howell, Peter and Sutton, Ian, eds. (1989) The Faber Guide to Victorian Churches. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0571147335.
  • Last, Kathryn V. (2002) ‘The Privileged Position of the Church of England in the Control of Works to Historic Buildings: The Provenance of the Ecclesiastical Exemption from Listed Building Control’, Common Law World Review vol. 31, pp. 205 – 235.
  • Mynors, Charles. (2006) Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas and Monuments. London: Sweet and Maxwell. ISBN 978-0-421-75830-8.
  • Rule Committee of the General Synod of the Church of England. (1999) Making Changes to a Listed Church: Guidelines for Clergy, Churchwardens and Parochial Church Councils prepared by the Ecclesiastical Rule Committee. London: Church House.


  1. ^ Mynors, pp8-9.
  2. ^ Winterman, Denise. (2013-03-07) BBC News - The man who demolished Shakespeare's house. Retrieved on 2013-08-13.
  3. ^ Mynors, p.9.
  4. ^ Mynors, p.9.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Last, p. 232.
  7. ^ Howell and Sutton, p. xiii.
  8. ^ Rule Committee of the General Synod of the Church of England, Making Changes to a Listed Church: Guidelines for Clergy, Churchwardens and Parochial Church Councils prepared by the Ecclesiastical Rule Committee, Church House (1999), p. 3.