​Recorded Talks on Homes and Interiors

A.W.N. Pugin and the Country House. A Talk by Rosemary Hill

Pugin never built a country house, but he worked on and off throughout his career on the Staffordshire estate of his patron, the Earl of Shrewsbury, at Alton Towers and Alton Castle. Pugin and Shrewsbury shared a belief in the social and spiritual purpose of architecture, but were often at odds about how best to realise it. By considering both men in their time and in their relationship to one another and to architecture, it is possible to see how their debates have left their mark, not only in some of the country houses of Britain and Ireland, but in many Victorian villas, and not least, in the Palace of Westminster.

Rosemary Hill is a trustee of the The Victorian Society & a Quondam Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. She is the author of God’s Architect, a multi-award winning biography of Augustus Pugin.

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The Architecture of Sir Ernest George: The Larger Country Houses. A Talk by Hilary Grainger

Sir Ernest George (1839-1922) was one of the most successful and prolific of late Victorian architects. George’s work, in partnership with Thomas Vaughan (1836-75), Harold Ainsworth Peto (1854-1933) and Alfred Bowman Yeates (1867-1914), encompassed country houses, town houses, six churches and some significant public works, including the Royal Academy of Music and Golders Green Crematorium.

Professor Hilary Grainger, OBE, is Professor Emerita in Architectural History at University of the Arts, London, and Honorary Professor at Durham University. She is the leading authority on the architecture of Sir Ernest George. She is currently Chair of the The Victorian Society.

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The David Parr House – An Extraordinary Cambridge Home. A Talk by Tasmin Wimhurst

Decorated in the late Victorian era this house lay undiscovered until a few years ago, when its extraordinary story began to be uncovered. David Parr was a ‘decorator artist’, who worked for some of the best known Victorian designers of the day, such as William Morris and George Bodley. He decorated churches and palaces for those who could afford such decoration, but in his spare time came home and decorated his humble terrace house in the same style.

Tamsin Wimhurst is a Trustee and founder of the David Parr House Charity which was set up in 2014 in order to conserve it and open up the house to the public.

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Farnborough Hill and the Empress Eugénie. A Talk by Anthony Geraghty

In 1880, following the death of her husband, Napoleon III, in exile in England, Empress Eugénie bought an estate at Farnborough, Hampshire, where she commissioned the architect Gabriel Hippolyte Destailleur to remodel and extend the existing house, which became the setting for her remarkable collection.

Anthony Geraghty, Professor of History of Art at the University of York, is the author of The Empress Eugenie at Farnborough, to be published this summer.

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Highland Retreats. A Talk by Mary Miers

Although mostly built as seasonal homes, many as shooting lodges, nineteenth-century country houses built in the Scottish Highlands encompass remarkable architectural variety, from picturesque cottages ornées and Scotch baronial castles inspired by Queen Victoria’s and Prince Albert’s Balmoral to Arts and Crafts mansions.

Mary Miers – a former The Victorian Society caseworker – is the author of the standard, much-acclaimed book on the subject, Highland Retreats: The Architecture and Interiors of Scotland’s Romantic North.

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The Victorian Town House. A Talk by Andrew Saint

As England was one of the most urbanised nations in the world by the end of the nineteenth century, its town and cities are rich in Victorian domestic architecture, but it may be a result of its very familiarity that it has tended to be given less attention by architectural historians than public buildings or country houses.

One of our leading architectural historians, and a former trustee of the The Victorian Society, Andrew Saint was for many years General Editor of The Survey of London. His most recent book, based on lectures he gave to the Society, is London 1870–1914: A City at its Zenith, published by Lund Humphries in 2021.

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The English Castle in the Nineteenth Century. A Talk by John Goodall

Some of the most spectacular country houses built or rebuilt in the nineteenth century were not houses at all – they were castles. From Alnwick to Cardiff and Arundel to Peckforton, great aristocratic families – and others – gave leading architects some of the most extraordinary commissions of the age.

John Goodall, the Architectural Editor of Country Life, is the author of the acclaimed study The English Castle: 1066–1650 (2011). His latest book, The Castle: A History, published earlier this year, takes the story up to the present day in an account of the changing meanings of castles over the centuries.

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Sambourne House, London. A Talk by Hannah Lund

In the first of two talks in this series on artists’ houses in London, Hannah Lund, Curator of Sambourne House in Kensington, discusses the home of the illustrator Linley Sambourne (1844–1910), one of the best preserved late nineteenth century houses in London, with richly decorated Aesthetic interiors of the 1870s and 1880s. The house has a special significance for members of the The Victorian Society, as it was here in 1958, when it was the home of Sambourne’s granddaughter Anne, Countess of Rosse, that the society was founded.

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Kingston Lacy, Dorset. A Talk by Michael Hall

One of the oddities of Charles Barry’s career is that he never designed a country house from scratch, but remodelled or extended existing buildings. One of the best preserved is Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne in Dorset, reconstructed for William Bankes from 1834 to 1841. Barry had earlier remodelled Bankes’s Welsh seat, Soughton Hall, Flintshire. Now owned by the National Trust, Kingston Lacy is remarkable not just for its architecture and splendid art collection but for the fact that the interiors were largely fitted out when Bankes was living abroad, to escape prosecution for a homosexual offence.

Michael Hall is writing a queer history of the National Trust, to be published in 2024.

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Leighton House, London. A Talk by Daniel Robins

This autumn Leighton House, home of the Victorian painter Frederic Leighton (1830–96), reopens after a major redevelopment aimed at completing its restoration and creating new facilities and resources to sustain it through the 21st century.

In the second of a pair of talks on Victorian artists’ houses, following Hannah Lund’s talk on Sambourne House, the curator of Leighton House, Daniel Robins, discusses the restoration of some of the finest Aesthetic Movement interiors in Britain, the setting for a rich artistic and social legacy.

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The Edwardians and their Houses. A Talk by Timothy Brittain-Caitlin

Edwardian domestic architecture was beautiful and varied in style and the Timothy Brittain-Catlin’s latest book provides a radical overview of the subject that show how this period offered innovative new building types for weekends, sport and suburban living and what that reveals about Edwardian attitudes to old architecture, health and science.

Timothy Brittain-Catlin is well known for his writings and work on A.W.N. Pugin and the domestic architecture of early Victorian Britain. This lecture is based on his recent book, The Edwardians and their Houses: The New Life of Old England.

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A Passion for Pattern: Victorian Wallpapers. A Talk by Joanna Banham

The Victorian period witnessed massive changes in the manufacture and consumption of wallpaper. Joanna will discuss features such as nursery designs, relief decorations, arsenical pigments, and explore the many ways that wallpaper was used in the decoration of the Victorian home.

Joanna Banham has over 25-years of experience in the arts, having curated historic wallpaper collections at the Whitworth Gallery and Arthur Sanderson & Sons.

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Glass in Nineteenth Century Public Spaces: A Talk by Sally Haden

Amongst the great technological advances of the nineteenth century, one is usually forgotten – the mastery of good quality glass. Clear, relatively unblemished glass for windows, mirrors and lighting burst upon nineteenth century public spaces. Lamps lit up dark streets, display mirrors enabled women to see themselves at full length, often for the first time, and vast windows spanned city shop fronts. But as Sally Haden’s talk will explain, opinions were mixed.

Sally Haden is an independent scholar with a first degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology, Hull University, 1975.

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