Recorded Talks Series: Victorians at Home

The talks series samples Victorian domestic architecture in all its great variety, ranging from artists’ houses in London to shooting lodges in Scotland and nineteenth-century castles.

Victorians at Home

This series ran in Autumn 2022 between October and December.

One ticket for all of the recorded talks can be bought and will give you 7 talks for the price of 6.

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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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