News & Events

Conference: ‘Reading the Country House’

Course Director Elizabeth Jamieson will be giving a paper ‘How Well Equipped is your Stable?  The Country House Stable and its Contents, 1789–1914′ as part of the conference Reading the Country House

Manchester Metropolitan University, 16 – 17 November 2018

Country houses were made to be read—as symbols of power, political allegiance, taste and wealth. This places emphasis on the legibility of their architecture and decorative schemes, and the paintings, collections and even the furniture they contained. It also draws our attention to the skills required to decode—to read—these signs and symbols. The messages and processes of reading were carried further by the growing number of images of country houses produced through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: in private sketch books and journals and as engravings published as collections or incorporated into written guidebooks. These allowed the country house to be read in very different ways, as did its appearance in the pages of novels, sometimes as the backdrop or stage for the action, but also symbolic of social structures and relations. This conference seeks to explore all of these perspectives on reading the country house and links them to how the country house is read today, by house managers and visitors and by viewers of period dramas.

Call for papers: ‘Country House Collections: Their Past, Present & Future’

‘Country House Collections: Their Past, Present and Future’

17th Annual Conference, 13-15 May 2019

Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates,
History Department, Maynooth University

The theme for the Seventeenth Annual Historic Houses Conference, to be held at Maynooth in May 2019 will be ‘Country House Collections: Their Past, Present and Future’.


The conference will look at how and why Country House collections were amassed, examine their break up, and consider the afterlife of objects as they moved into the art market, the museum world, or elsewhere. How does the identity of a house change if its contents have been removed? What were the reasons for such dispersal, were these actions chosen or enforced? What happens to a collection once it has begun to be dismembered, and how are objects viewed and understood in new locations by different audiences? The conference will also discuss the role of art in country houses today, particularly how historic collections combine with, or react to, contemporary installations.

Papers on any aspect of the above relating to collections in Ireland, the UK, or Europe, will be considered. Enquiries and abstracts of no more than 400 words should be sent to Professor Terence Dooley and Professor Christopher Ridgway before 5 January 2019 at the following addresses:, and