View of Big Ben
View of Big Ben © Historic England K000056
View of Big Ben © Historic England K000056

London History Day Announced After Public Vote as Part of New Campaign to #KeepItLondon

  • Historic England launches 'Keep it London' campaign to ask the public to pledge their support for the capital's heritage
  • Londoners have chosen 31 May 2017 to be the first ever London History Day, the date Big Ben first started keeping time
  • Houses of Parliament voted as the place that best sums up London
  • Londoners' favourite historic London hero is the Queen when she secretly joined the crowds to celebrate VE day

Historic England has today launched its "Keep it London" campaign, to get the public to notice, celebrate and speak up for the heritage of their city. To mark the launch an online YouGov poll was carried out to ask Londoners to choose the most relevant date to celebrate the capital's history, their historic hero and the building that sums up London.

Most popular day to celebrate London's history

Londoners selected the day that Big Ben first started to keep time as the date to celebrate the city's history and heritage. The 31 May will be named 'London History Day' from 2017 when Historic England will plan a day of celebrations and events.

24% chose this date from a selection of 10 key moments in the city's history followed closely by 22% suggesting that the date could be when the Great Fire of London broke out. Other contenders were the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games and when the Metropolitan Railway opened the world's first underground railway in London.

Favourite historic London hero

Londoners have also selected their historic London hero from major moments in London's past. They chose the moment that the Queen left Buckingham Palace to secretly join the crowds celebrating VE day. Following closely was Samuel Pepys who documented the Great Fire of London in his famous diaries (21%) and the fire watchers of World War Two - volunteers who protected St Paul's Cathedral during the Blitz (19%). 

Place that sums up the capital

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are the resounding favourite for a place that sums up the capital with 35% of Londoners choosing it. 15% preferred Buckingham Palace, 11% the River Thames and Tower Bridge was selected by 10%.

'I am London'

Historic England has today also launched a new film, 'I am London' for the 'Keep it London' campaign which celebrates the historic buildings and places that have borne witness to the capital's history. The film is voiced by Londoners and celebrates the capital in all its inspirational, provocative, chaotic glory.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: "This campaign is to highlight that London is on the cusp of fundamental change. We want that change to be right for London. The city is home to some of the world's most treasured and special places. We want people to look at London afresh and speak up for the amazing buildings, streets and character of their city. Our heritage is a source of pride, a reminder of the city's past, a foundation for its present and the building blocks for its future. And we want new buildings that are designed for London - not for a generic city. We want to 'Keep it London'."

Pledge your support for London at

Follow the conversation on Twitter with #KeepItLondon