The Attingham Trust

What is the Attingham Trust?

The Attingham Trust is an educational charitable trust. It offers specialised study courses, primarily for people professionally engaged in the field, on historic houses, their collections and settings, and on the history and contents of English royal palaces.

Who set it up?

The first Attingham Summer School was set up in 1952 to offer American curators the opportunity to become acquainted with the fabric and contents of British country houses. Its founders were Helen Lowenthal, founder of the Education Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Sir George Trevelyan, a pioneer of adult education and Warden of Attingham Park. A Summer School has been organised every year since that date. The School has had a succession of notable scholars as Directors, notably Helena Hayward and Dr Geoffrey Beard.

What courses does the Trust provide?

Three residential summer programmes are organised by the Trust each year.


A non-residential course is also offered:

What do the courses offer?

The courses offer a unique opportunity to became acquainted with the history, architecture and contents of historic buildings and their gardens and estates, and to study how they are managed and interpreted today by a wide variety of owners, both public and private. They aim to reflect the most up-to-date current research in the various fields they study, and to offer lectures and tuition of the highest quality.
The historic houses and royal palaces of Britain hold exceptional collections far beyond the scope of British fine and decorative arts. They are particularly strong, for example, in French decorative arts and Italian, Dutch and Flemish paintings. For specialists in a wide range of disciplines, the collections offer very considerable opportunities for intensive privileged study.
Members may only attend once on the Summer School and Royal Collection Studies.

Why the name?

Founded in 1952 as The Attingham Summer School Trust and named after the great Neoclassical house in Shropshire in which The Summer School was first held, The Attingham Trust has built and sustained an international reputation for academic excellence. It works in close collaboration with the American Friends of Attingham established in New York in 1962.

Does the Trust operate on its own?

The Trust is a self-supporting organisation with its own boards in Britain and the United States. It collaborates with a number of heritage institutions and museums, including the National Trust, English Heritage, Royal Collection Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Members of the staff of these organisations are regularly involved in teaching, and others attend the schools.

How are the Courses publicised?

The courses are advertised in the relevant specialist press and through an extensive mailing list. From the considerable number of applicants from many countries, participants are chosen with an architectural, historical, conservation or academic background, or a close involvement with the fine and decorative arts. Whilst traditionally most of the participants have come from the United States, in recent years the programmes have been attended by a growing number of scholars and experts from Europe and Australia, and in recent years also from India, China and South America.

Does the Trust offer scholarships?

This is a non profit-making organisation. From its own funds and from donations made by a number of trusts and private individuals, the Trust offers as many scholarships as possible to its members. The Trustees try to ensure that nobody who deserves a place is prevented from attending for financial reasons. All members who have attended a course run by The Attingham Trust are alumni and many are now working in museums, heritage bodies, universities, architectural practices and conservation workshops all over the world.