Former government culture commissioner to chair Historic England

Neil Mendoza will succeed PM’s ethics adviser Laurie Magnus at heritage body next month
Neil Mendoza

By Jim Dunton

11 Aug 2023

Conservative peer Neil Mendoza has been appointed as the next chair of government heritage adviser Historic England – replacing Sir Laurie Magnus in the role.

Magnus has been prime minister Rishi Sunak’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests since the start of the year but retained the role of Historic England chair.

Lord Mendoza is currently provost of Oriel College, Oxford. He formerly served as the government’s commissioner for cultural recovery and renewal – a role he was appointed to in 2020, and also chaired the Culture and Heritage Capital Board at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

He was a non-executive director at DCMS between 2016 and 2020, during which time he led the year-long Mendoza Review of Museums in England on behalf of the department. Mendoza has previously served as a Historic England commissioner. His business background is in finance and publishing.

Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson said Mendoza had long been a champion of the nation’s shared heritage and was a “strong advocate” for the power of heritage to make a positive difference for people and places.

“As commissioner for culture, he was instrumental in helping to deliver urgent support for our treasured historic places during the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath,” Wilson said. “Lord Mendoza brings a huge amount of experience and expertise to Historic England which will help to steer both our organisation, and the heritage sector, confidently forward.”

Magnus said Mendoza understood the principles behind constructive conservation and recognised that the beneficial influence of heritage extended “far beyond” tourism and was “an essential catalyst for effective social and economic regeneration”.

“His reputation and stature will add greatly in delivering Historic England’s core purpose to champion and protect England’s remarkable heritage,” Magnus said.

Mendoza said he was “thrilled” to be appointed as Historic England chair and valued the deep experience of the organisation’s staff in issues ranging from marine archaeology to city skylines.

“The pandemic sharpened awareness of the economic value of the heritage sector and how much our historic environment means to people but there is more to be done in demonstrating the importance of heritage to society,” he said.

“Over the last few years, it’s been clear that the heritage sector has increased its national impact across regeneration, education and cultural development.”

Mendoza takes over as Historic England chair from next month.

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