Research on the Country House: A work-in-progress afternoon

heritage wip

Current research within Oxford is creating fresh perspectives on the country house and its history. This event is an opportunity to hear about graduate students’ ongoing research, and to open up discussion among researchers and across disciplines.
Topics under discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • the social life of country houses, from servants’ experiences, to houses as sites of sociability and literary production
  • art patronage
  • the use of house archives
  • the recent political and financial status of country houses
  • historical interpretation of houses for the visiting public

Anyone is welcome to attend, and we particularly welcome interested undergraduate and master's-level students. The event is free, with lunch and refreshments provided.
Please contact to register, noting any dietary and access requirements.


13.00 Lunch
13.45 Amy Lim State apartments and royal visits: challenging the fallacy
14.00 Jemima Hubberstey The Wrest Circle: Literary Coteries and their Influence on Landscape Design, 1740-1760
14.15 Elisabeth Grass Country house networks: East Anglia and Transatlantic slavery
14.30 Discussion, followed by refreshment break
15.15 Isabel Budleigh The Evolution of Historic House Interpretation, 1940s to the Present Day
15.30 Elena Porter The political status of privately-owned country houses in Britain since 1950
15.45 Discussion

Amy Lim is a third year DPhil candidate at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford. Her research investigates the impact of the 1688 Glorious Revolution on the dynamics of art patronage, fashion and power between the crown and the landed aristocracy. Through case studies of major art patrons, it considers architecture and gardens, fine and decorative arts, including the great country houses of Chatsworth, Petworth and Burghley. Amy holds an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with Tate, where her research is supporting the forthcoming exhibition, ‘British Baroque: Power and Illusion’, at Tate Britain, 5 February – 19 April 2020.

Jemima Hubberstey is doing a Collaborative Doctoral Award with the University of Oxford and English Heritage. She has an MSt in Literature and Arts and a BA in English Literature. Her research interests include eighteenth-century literature, country house studies, garden history, and architectural history.

Elisabeth Grass is a DPhil student at St Peter’s College, Oxford. Her research focuses on the socio-cultural activities of West Indian absentee slaveholders in Britain in the long eighteenth century, with a particular focus on their country houses and estates. She is interested in the ways in which members of the 'planter elite' inculcated themselves within the landed elite, managed their identities, and presented themselves as ladies and gentlemen of taste. Working with the National Trust under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme, her research offers perspectives on wealth derived from enslaved labour in the West Indies, and its legacy in our built environment.

Isabel Budleigh completed an M.St. in British and European History at Oxford in 2018, with her research acting as a scoping project for the doctoral work she is now undertaking. She took a year out and worked for the Bodleian Libraries and the Pitt Rivers Museum, and has just started a DPhil supervised by Oliver Cox and William Whyte this autumn. Her research explores the evolution of historic house interpretation from the 1940s to the present day, what this can tell us about wider developments in post-war British society, and how this can justify or challenge contemporary approaches to the country house today.

Elena Porter is a DPhil student at St Anne’s College, Oxford. She is working with Historic Houses under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme, researching the political status of privately-owned country houses in Britain since 1950. Focusing on the methods and effectiveness of country house lobbyists, her work reassesses the active construction of the country house as a symbol of national identity, and examines the influence of inherited wealth in British politics.