National Recording Project


Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

The National Recording Project (NRP) was set up in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from Eleanor Crosses to the most contemporary works. With the help of a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as many other donations from others such as the Henry Moore Foundation, Pilgrim Trust, Regional Arts Boards and charitable foundations, the project spent five years collecting a wealth of information, which was entered on the NRP database. The undertaking is part conservation, part archival, with roots in local and social as well as art history. Most recently, a three-year grant from English Heritage's National Capacity Building Programme has contributed towards completion of the geographical map, promotion of the existing database and a fund-raising programme for further development and maintenance to the database and website. The country is divided into Regional Archive Centres (RACs), mostly run from academic institutions. Each is responsible for the survey and digitised record of its local area, the information from which is then to be conveyed to the National Archive Centre (NAC) for collation, storage and dissemination in digital form. Each RAC is also invited to do further in-depth research and to contribute to the series of volumes 'Public Sculpture of Britain'. Publication cannot necessarily be guaranteed however. These volumes are published by the Liverpool University Press (see Publications page). As well as those represented on the NRP Database, there are several other active Regional Archive Centres including West Yorkshire (at the University of Leeds), Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire (at the University of Derby) and Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (at the University of Reading). Solo surveys are under way in Cumbria and Lancashire and in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

The National Recording Project (NRP) answers questions about sculptures and monuments in your neighbourhood. A survey of public sculptures and monuments throughout Britain, it is 70% completed to 2002 and is still under way. This unique resource is a boon to scholars, conservators and custodians, as well as to the man in the street and the woman on the Clapham Omnibus (or any omnibus, bicycle, tricycle, jalopy or Shanks’s Pony).

Download the National Recording Project information sheet. If you are viewing this website on Internet Explorer please right click and save the file to your computer.

National Recording Project Information Sheet (291.9 KB)

The NRP Online Database

The database is a unique collection containing more than 9,300 entries of public monuments and sculptures, many accompanied by an image. Some fifteen Regional Archive Centres - covering roughly two-thirds of the country - collected core data about works in their area, their provenance, background and current condition, often supported by a photographic record. The database is an excellent resource for students & researchers, conservators, local historians, art buffs, enthusiasts, genealogists and all who want to know more about public sculpture: statues / obelisks / columns / sculptures / installations / fountains, follies, commemorative clocks, wayside markers, towers – from the Stuart era to the present day.

The database contains data from the following areas:

Bristol and S.W. England including Bournemouth, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire and Swindon
East London, including Greater London
Manchester, including Greater Manchester
North-East England, including the Cleveland area, Durham County, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear
Somerset and Wiltshire
Western Central Counties, including Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire
Central London, including the Greater London Boroughs
East Midlands, including Leicestershire and Rutland
Merseyside and Cheshire
Wales, including Anglesey, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Pembrokeshire, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Swansea, Vale of Glamorgan, Torfaen and Wrexham

Ways in which you can participate 

In addition to all the researchers and other academic staff members working on the NRP, we have been ably assisted by a range of volunteers including students, retired people with time to spare, staff in local government and libraries and other interested members of the public. The National Recording Project needs your help! If you know about local sculpture, have information on artists, or are a practising sculptor / artist yourself, then please take a moment to contact us. If you would like to take part in a more structured manner, such as in a work placement or voluntary capacity, then we would also like to hear from you.


Institutions currently collaborating, or that have collaborated with us, on the National Recording Project

Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Edinburgh College of Art
Glasgow School of Art
Hampshire Sculpture Trust (supported by Hampshire County Council)
John Moore's University, Liverpool
Kingston University
Manchester Metropolitan University
Nottingham Trent University
Polygon Design, Bristol
Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield
University of Brighton
University of Central England, Birmingham
University of Derby
University of East Anglia
University of East London
University of Hull
University of Leeds
University of Leicester
University of Liverpool
University of Northumbria at Newcastle upon Tyne
University of Reading
National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff
University of Wales (Aberystwyth)
University of the West of England, Bristol

The NRP is probably unique in academic circles for the number of British institutions involved.

NRP advisers or consultants include:
English Heritage
National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside
The UK National Inventory of War Memorials
The War Memorials Trust

As part of our National Recording Project we also gather information about the many and varied online public art audits, surveys and lists that are publicly accessible.
Some of these take the form of sculpture trails, which can be seen here Sculpture Parks and Trails.

Public art in Westminster:

Brentford Dock Right Now, Brentford Sculptures:

Hammersmith & Fulham Historic Sculptures Database

Public Sculptures of Sussex Database

Recording Archive for Public Sculpture in Norfolk & Suffolk

Sculpture for Norwich:

If you know of any others, please let us know.