Running from November 2018 to May 2019, this series of seven lectures will inspire you with tales of hidden histories, secrets of world-class collections and stories of survival from some of your favourite stately homes, including Wentworth Woodhouse, Chatsworth House and Renishaw Hall. Find out more about your favourite places from the experts, including BBC Radio Sheffield’s Melvyn Jones, Chatsworth’s former head housekeeper Christine Robinson and Yorkshire country houses author Peter Brown.
Lectures cost £20 per person. A glass of wine and canapés are included in the ticket price. There will be a bar to buy drinks on the night.
Lecture 6.30pm-8pm. Doors open at 6pm.
To book tickets, please go to www.wentworthwoodhouse.org.uk/events or phone us on 01226 351161.
See the full programme below
Friday 9 November 2018
‘Passions, Personalities and Patronage: Chatsworth and the story of the Devonshire family’s collections from 1549 to present’ with Simon Seligman
A history of the Devonshire collection and its home, Chatsworth, told through the interests, characters and tastes of its collectors over 16 generations, from Elizabethan beginnings to the current Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and their family. Each generation has left its mark on the collections, whether as connoisseurs, enthusiastic patrons and acquirers, through fortuitous marriage or the occasional benign indifference, and it is fascinating to see how these diverse personalities have contributed to one of the finest surviving family collections in Europe. This lecture includes Old Master drawings, rare books, silver and jewels, ancient and modern portraits, sculpture spanning centuries of European culture and other unique treasures.
Simon Seligman works in cultural lecturing, assessing quality in tourist attractions, and communications in the field of the arts, heritage and tourism.
Thursday 13 December 2018
‘Wentworth Woodhouse: The miracle of its survival’ with Peter Brown
Wentworth Woodhouse is the product of one of England’s most significant Whig families, the Marquises of Rockingham and Earls Fitzwilliam, who complemented the splendour of the house’s architecture with a magnificent assembly of contents. Twenty years ago, the Georgian Group mounted a concerted (and ultimately successful) campaign to secure the future of Wentworth Woodhouse as a registered charity and open to the public. The historic house is now administered by a newly-created preservation trust. It is appropriate, therefore, in this anniversary year, to celebrate the rescue of this important mansion and to reprise the way it appeared, prior to the abandonment of the house in the mid-twentieth century and the dispersal of the collections. Using the family papers, drawings and early Country Life photographs, this illustrated talk looks to reimagine the splendour of this spectacular house and to highlight the challenges facing the new Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust.
Peter Brown MBE FSA is the former Director of Fairfax House and of York Civic Trust. He has curated 14 exhibitions and recently published a book about the country houses of Yorkshire.
Thursday 10 January 2019
‘Renishaw Hall’ with Alexandra Sitwell
Join us for a fascinating talk with Alexandra Sitwell as she takes you on a whistle stop tour of her family home and award-winning gardens – Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire. Through Renishaw’s 400 years of Sitwell occupancy, Alexandra will give a unique and amusing insight into the rich and diverse history of this most unusual house and its remarkable occupants, including literary trail blazers Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell.
Thursday 21 February 2019
‘From Cromwell to Critchlow’ with Gregory Monks
Discover the story of Wingfield Manor and the people who lived there, starting with the builder Ralph de Cromwell, a key minister in the government of Henry VI in the period leading up to the Wars of the Roses. The manor holds a fascinating and chequered past: home to Bess of Hardwick and Arbella Stuart; prison to Mary Queen of Scots; fought over in the Civil War; sketched and painted by Turner; and visited by Dickens and D H Lawrence. It then declined in its latter days to a romantic ruin and has long since been home to a family of tenant farmers.
Gregory Monks leads guided tours for visitors at both Wingfield Manor and Hardwick Old Hall and is employed by English Heritage as an Historic Properties Steward.
– SOLD OUT –
Thursday 7 March 2019
‘Wentworth Woodhouse: The house, the estate and the family’ with Melvyn Jones
This fascinating talk will span the time and space of Wentworth Woodhouse, looking at the house itself and the expansion of the estate, park and gardens. Hear amusing stories from the journals of the first Marquis of Rockingham and discover little-known tales about the family, including their attitudes towards their staff, a visit in the early 18th century by Thomas Watson-Wentworth to his Irish estates, the christening of the 8th Earl in 1911, and the development of a menagerie at Wentworth with such unlikely inmates as a brown bear, a kangaroo and an emu.
After a teaching career of nearly 40 years, Melvyn Jones retired from Sheffield Hallam University and, from 1998 to 2010, he presented regular local history programmes on BBC Radio Sheffield. He is the author of more than 60 books and 200 articles on South Yorkshire.
Thursday 11 April 2019
‘Chatsworth: The housekeeper’s tale’ with Christine Robinson
Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Peak District and home of the Cavendish family for nearly 500 years, Chatsworth House is one of Britain’s greatest stately homes. In this illustrated talk, Christine Robinson will tell the story of her family’s connection with Chatsworth’s great estate over the past two centuries and her personal involvement with the Cavendish family. As former head housekeeper and with over forty years’ experience working at Chatsworth, she is well-placed to tell her story. She will describe the day-to-day care of this magnificent house, some of the characters who have worked there and the fabulous parties that they all enjoyed, and will share poignant reminiscences of her time working for the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.
Thursday 2 May 2019
“Enormous, complicated and highly articulated machines” (Girouard, 1979): the introduction of domestic technology into country houses with Marilyn Palmer
In the second half of the 19th century, technology played an increasingly important role in enabling owners of country houses to achieve their ambition of a comfortable house which functioned efficiently and, as far as the owners and their guests were concerned, largely invisibly. Many country house owners played an important role in the improvement and acceptance of many of the home comforts which we, in the developed world at least, take for granted, such as central heating, sanitation, running water and electric lighting. Mechanical and then electrical bells were used by the household to summon servants from their distant quarters, whilst lifts and sometimes even railways conveyed fuel, food or luggage unseen to where they were needed. The dwindling financial resources which many country estates experienced from the late 19th century has meant that the physical evidence of these earliest examples of domestic innovations has often survived rather than being swept away by later modernisation. The owners of many houses, recognising the changing composition of their visiting public, have begun to open up the below-stairs areas as well as the state rooms and to conserve the remains of earlier technologies.
The lecture will be given by Marilyn Palmer MBE, FSA, Britain’s only Professor of Industrial Archaeology and formerly of the University of Leicester. She served on the National Trust’s Archaeology Panel for over 20 years and developed an interest in the remains of past technologies in country houses, the result being the book she co-wrote with Dr Ian West, Technology in the Country House, published in 2016 by Historic England jointly with the National Trust.