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Why Recording?

Recording can be undertaken in various circumstances e.g.

  • To gain understanding of a building, groups of buildings or a settlement, such as for Neighbourhood Plans, management plans, proposed alterations, disaster damage.

  • Recording is sometimes a condition of the planning process.


The purpose is to ensure the long term survival and accessibility of the information, such as for the Historic Environment Record.

What does it involve?

If it is a planning condition then the level and nature of the recording will usually be outlined by the planning authority.


Generally a recording project entails:

  • Documentary research including maps, Historic Environment Records, archives and various sources of historic documents

  • Building investigation and analysis, including layout, the historic phasing to show the evolution of a building over time, architectural styles and features.

  • Sometimes it involves technical analysis such as dendrocnronology or paint analysis.

  • Measured Survey.

  • Drawings.

  • Photography.

  • A written report.

Levels of Recording

Historic England

Level 1

Very basic recording, often just of the exterior of a building or buildings.


Level 2

A descriptive record is typically more detailed than Level 1 and generally includes drawings, photographs and a written record.


Level 3

An analytical record is more detailed than Level 2 and will usually provide a historical analysis which  describes the building’s evolution, structure, style  and appearance  with specific reference to the  evidence base. It will include drawings and photographs.


Level 4

A comprehensive analytical record draws on wider resources so, for example, may assess other factors contributing to the building’s importance, such as historical associations, events, or its place in regional or national context.  It will include drawings and more detailed photographic survey.

Find out more from:

Historic England (2016) Understanding Historic Buildings: A Guide to Good Recording Practice

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