The John Cornforth Memorial Lectures tell the story of the country house and its estate, as seen through the eyes of the private owner. Proudly presented in association with Christie’s, the lecture series celebrates John Cornforth’s invaluable contribution to architectural history. This year, the proceeds of the lectures will be donated to the the National Trust.

John Cornforth (1937–2004) was one of the best known architectural historians of his day and a leading authority on the English country house. Author of numerous books and more than 800 articles in Country Life, where for many years he was Architectural Editor, he shared his time and knowledge with country house owners and the National Trust as well as encouraging and mentoring young curators and architectural historians.


The 2024 John Cornforth Memorial Lectures will take place at Christie’s in London and will also be streamed online.




Lady Caroline Percy on Syon Park, London

7 February 2024 | Christie’s London and Online

Syon is one of the last great historic houses of London and holds a wealth of art within its spectacular neo classical interiors, decorated by Robert Adam. The park and gardens, designed by Capability Brown, feel like deep countryside, while barely 9 miles from Charing Cross.

Syon is the London home of the Dukes of Northumberland and has been in the Percy family for almost 350 years. The house was built on the site of a former Abbey and, since its medieval origins, has played a significant role in English history over the centuries.

The interiors and park are open to the public and are available for filming, weddings and events.


The Duchess of Argyll on Inveraray Castle, Argyll, Scotland

13 March 2024 | Christie’s London and Online

Inveraray Castle is the family home of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. Its very existence reflects the part played by the Campbells, who have been in the area since the 1200s and in the present castle since 1700s, in the rich tapestry of Scottish and British history. The contents of Inveraray Castle span many generations of the family and offer a glimpse of their heritage and the way their predecessors lived.

Inveraray Castle and Gardens are open to the public and now include a shop and tearoom, weddings, events and filming, all which make up the larger business of the estate, including forestry, holiday houses, farming, caravan park, quarries, minerals and hydro, archives and sporting.


The Hon James and Lady Cara Willoughby on Birdsall House, North Yorkshire

16 April 2024 | Christie’s London and Online

Birdsall House has been the home of the Willoughby family since 1729. The first Birdsall House was built circa 1540 and was redeveloped into the existing Georgian style in the 18th and 19th centuries. The original Tudor house was converted into a much grander Georgian style house, with a new wing added in 1775 which gave the family new State Rooms; the Oval Room and the Ballroom. The Willoughby family originally came from Nottinghamshire and built Wollaton Hall where they lived for 450 years until it was sold after World War I.

The family currently offers an ever-increasing range of activities and opportunities at the Estate for visitors to enjoy.



Doors open: 6:30pm GMT

Reception: 6:30pm – 7pm GMT

Lecture: 7pm – 8pm GMT


Tickets for the memorial lecture may be purchased here


Image credits: Inveraray Castle, Argyll, Scotland