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How to make a period or listed building as secure as possible

How to make a period or listed building as secure as possible

There are many perks to living in a period property – the character of the place, its history, its idiosyncrasies – and for many people they make homes for life that are adored. 

But period properties do come with certain problems, notably for security. If the property is listed, or in a conservation area, it means it comes with a list of restrictions on what you can do to it. While this does stop wanton owners from ruining the period character of the place by making modern alterations, it does mean that sometimes owners have to live without certain modern conveniences, such as modern high-security doors and windows.

For this reason, period properties can be seen as an easy target by burglars. But they don’t have to be and there are a range of ways you can ensure your period property is as secure as possible.

Front doors

Front doors are the first line of defence against burglars. Unfortunately, some period doors are thin or old and so not as durable as modern doors and can be easily kicked in or forced open. One way to make them harder to kick in is to change the way they open from inwards to outwards – something to consider if you cannot change the style of your door. Likewise, fitting a door chain can help to limit how far a door opens.

But good locks do more than anything to make doors more secure. There are locks available for wooden doors that are considered stronger than those for uPVC doors. For example, high bolts can increase the strength of a door. 

Meanwhile deadlocks or deadbolts provide a secure locking system as they have to be manually operated with a key. Mortice locks are also a great way of increasing door security: these are fitted inside the door, which makes it tricky to force open as most of the locking mechanism is contained inside the door frame. Another advantage of this is that little of the locking mechanism is visible, so it doesn’t affect the period style of your door.

However, if you want to install deadbolts or mortice locks, then it is advisable to get the professionals in. Locksmiths such as Inta-lock Locksmiths in Peterborough are skilled in installing new locks into period doors and can ensure that the look of the door is not affected.


Windows can be a particularly vulnerable point in period properties as they don’t benefit from modern uPVC frames with locks and double glazing. Many have wooden frames, which are prone to suffering the effects of ageing. But there are ways to enhance security, for example, if it is a sash window there are specialist sash locks that can be installed. However, you need to be careful as there could be restrictions on which you can use so you should check with your local council before making any changes.

If the window has an iron frame, which is often found in early 20th century buildings, there are specialist locks available that stop the window from being popped out.

Security grilles are also an option for the inside of the windows. Some grilles are sympathetic to period properties, but if you are worried about this there are collapsible grilles available that fold away when they aren’t needed. These can be useful if the homeowner is away for an extended period, such as a holiday.

Lighting and alarm systems

Modern technology might seem at odds with a period property, but it can be a great way to enhance your security in a discreet way.

Motion-activated lighting systems are very effective for putting off burglars – they like to be in the dark so putting a spotlight on them is the last thing they want. These can be purchased in a period style, so they are in keeping with the property.

CCTV is also becoming an increasingly effective weapon against burglars. With HD cameras becoming the norm, it is a long way from the grainy footage of the 90s. Cameras are also getting smaller, so they are not so obvious, if you don’t want to affect the aesthetic of the property and don’t fall under planning legislation. 

Alarm systems can also enhance security – and are sometimes a stipulation in insurance policies – but they don’t have to compromise the period aesthetic of the property. There are alarm bell boxes available in dark colours and wood effect that can be fitted discreetly on the outside of the property.

Basic security measures

There are also some basic and inexpensive measures property owners can take to enhance security. For instance, letterboxes are vulnerable parts of a front door, and period letterboxes even more so, especially where a thief uses a long pole to hook items such as car keys from within the house. If a new letterbox cannot be installed, consider getting a letterbox cage for inside the door. For this reason it is also a good idea to keep any keys or valuables away from the door.

In addition, it is worth investing in good quality high fencing around the front and rear of your property that is difficult to climb over.

If you are often out in the evening, consider investing in automatic timers that switch lights on at a certain time or when it gets dark to give the illusion that people are in the property. This can help to discourage the more opportunistic burglar.

Get advice

While no security measures are 100% infallible, taking precautions such as these will help to make a period property more secure, as well as giving you greater peace of mind.

If you want advice on what sort of locks and cannot be installed in your period property, as well as more general advice on improving the security of your property, then give Inta-lock Locksmiths in Peterborough a call. Our expert locksmiths can give impartial advice on what your property needs and can also install whatever security measures you want.


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