The Attingham Summer School 2020

2 – 19 July 2020


For all applicants, except those from the United States of America *


Since its foundation in 1952, THE ATTINGHAM SUMMER SCHOOL has enjoyed outstanding success and is highly regarded by museums, universities and historic preservation societies throughout the world for its careful selection of members, and sustained academic standards.

The School has three main purposes:

To EXAMINE the architectural and social history of the historic house in Britain and its gardens and landscape setting.

To STUDY the contents of these buildings – their paintings, sculpture, furniture, ceramics, silver, textiles and other applied arts – as well as the planning, decorative treatment and use of the interiors.

To STIMULATE debate on problems relating to the conservation and presentation of the country house and its contents.

The 69th Attingham Summer School

The 69th Attingham Summer School, an 18-day residential course directed by David Adshead and Tessa Wild, will visit country houses in Sussex, Oxfordshire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire and Norfolk. From West Dean, our first base, we will study, amongst other houses and gardens: the complex overlays of Arundel Castle, the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Norfolk; Petworth House, where the patronage of great British artists such as Turner and Flaxman enrich its Baroque interiors; Uppark, a Grand Tour house; Standen, an Arts and Crafts reinterpretation of the country house.

In the Midlands a series of related houses will be examined: Hardwick Hall, unique amongst Elizabethan houses for its survival of late 16th century decoration and contents; Bolsover Castle, a Jacobean masque setting frozen in stone; and Chatsworth, where the collections and gardens of the Dukes of Devonshire span more than four centuries. Other highlights include the superb collections and landscaped gardens at Boughton House – ‘the English Versailles’; Calke Abbey, with its left ‘as found’ interiors and the crisp neo-Classical Kedleston Hall.

Based in Norwich, the final part of the course will explore the estates and collections of Norfolk, a coastal county of rich contrasts and exceptional houses.  Our itinerary will include Blickling, the fine Jacobean house of Sir Henry Hobart and later of the Earls of Buckingham, renowned for its Long Gallery and superb book collection; Felbrigg Hall, a 17th century house with important Grand Tour collections and mid-18th century interiors by James Paine; Houghton Hall, the great Palladian country seat of Sir Robert Walpole the first ‘Prime Minister’, with its unrivalled work by William Kent and Sheringham Park, a favourite work of Humphry Repton, for which he produced one of his famous Red Books. 

Throughout the course, lectures and seminars will be held, and discussion stimulated on all aspects of the country house including, conservation and restoration, display and interpretation. A number of private houses and collections will be visited details of which will be available in due course. 

Sir John Lewis, OBE
Annabel Westman, FSA
David Adshead, FSA
Tessa Wild
Lorna Gartside
Professor Sheila ffolliott, FSA
Mary Ellen Whitford

Enrolment and Course Fees

The cost of the 18-day residential course will be online in early October.  It includes tuition, most meals, accommodation, admission to houses and travel by private coach.  Not included is the cost of drinks, laundry, guide books and membership of the National Trust/Royal Oak Foundation.  Scholarships are available to candidates unable to pay the full fee personally or whose organisation cannot support them in full.  (For applicants from Australia seeking scholarships, please refer to before 15 November 2019.)

Completed applications must be returned by 27 January 2020 and should include a statement of how attendance on the Attingham Summer School may benefit the candidate’s career, together with a letter of professional reference.  Please email if you have any queries when completing the form.


In addition to general enrolment, several scholarships are available for candidates on the 2020 Summer School.

To qualify for a scholarship, applicants should be in full-time employment in a museum or art gallery, or with a conservation body, or equivalent organisation.  Alternatively they should be practising architects concerned primarily with conservation, or be post-doctoral researchers with a specialism in the country house and collections, or be teachers of the fine and decorative arts.

The scholarship funding available is thanks to the generous support of various individuals and charitable foundations.  Since this amount is limited, applicants who are unable to meet the fees are encouraged to approach their institutions for full or partial financial assistance before applying for the course.  Any candidate wishing to apply for a scholarship must complete the scholarship application at the end of the form and provide details of his/her current salary.

Candidates, other than those from the USA, awarded a scholarship either wholly from The Attingham Trust, or financial support in combination with their institution or a separate funding body, are required to make a personal contribution of £200 to support the work of the Attingham Educational Charitable Trust.

The Council of The Attingham Trust reserves the right to adjust fees if there is a substantial change in the exchange rate, as these were assessed on the basis of assumptions made in September 2019.  Should this prove to be necessary, members will be informed by 1 April 2019.

To Apply

Applicants should be in full-time employment in a museum or art gallery, conservation body or equivalent organisation, practising architects concerned primarily with conservation, or be post-doctoral researchers with a specialism in the country house and collections, or teachers of the fine and decorative arts or architecture.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application during the second week of March 2020.  To secure a place on the Summer School, successful applicants are asked to make an initial deposit of £350.00 (where applicable) with the balance of the full fees payable by 30 April 2020.  Participants are strongly advised to insure against cancellation as refunds will not be payable once a place on the programme has been confirmed.

Please note when making your application that this is an intensive and physically strenuous course. There is plenty of walking, standing and climbing stairs and your fitness must be of a level that will not impact on the enjoyment of the group or take up disproportionate amounts of the organisers’ attention. You should have a good level of spoken English.  Whilst we are happy to cater for vegetarian and gluten-free needs, other specialist diets cannot always be accommodated.

* Applications from the United States
The course fee, which includes the US handling fee, will be online in early October.  A downloadable PDF form is now available from the American Friends of Attingham website.  For any assistance please contact Mary Ellen Whitford, American Friends of Attingham, 205 Lexington Avenue, Suite 1600, New York, NY 10016, USA.  Email:; Tel: 001 (212) 682 6840.

Applications from Britain, Europe and all other countries
Applications can be made online below.  For any assistance, please contact Lorna Gartside:


Hardwick Hall photo credit: Oscar Beisert