The Country House: Management, Preservation, Education

Module code: HA7106 

Module co-ordinator: Professor Phillip Lindley

Module Overview

English Country Houses are some of the most remarkable historical structures in existence. Many great houses in this country survive together with contents which have been assembled over centuries. They have enormous educational potential. This module will develop postgraduate students’ knowledge of the theory underlying the educational functions of the historic house: it will appraise them of the importance of social inclusion; learning in the historic environment; and the digital heritage. It will also include guidance from professionals working in the Historic House industries on the practicalities of managing an historic house and conserving its contents within different organizational structures. It will examine the potential application of theoretical approaches to specific case studies. Underpinning this module is the belief that the historic environment can make a major contribution to cultural and economic participation by all socio-cultural groups. Much of the teaching takes place at Lamport Hall itself, where invited professionals come to hold the small-group seminars. This will enable you to network and interact with your speakers.

The module will examine state and voluntary support for historic houses and the transmission of knowledge from individual researchers to the wider community. It will help participants realise the potential of Information and Communications Technology; appraise them of the respective roles of government departments such as the DCMS and DfES; the role of English Heritage (EH); the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF); National Trust (NT); and the Historic Houses Association (HHA). Given documented visitor numbers to historic properties, the importance of the country house in the heritage industry can hardly be exaggerated. In 2003, visitor numbers were as follows:

  • 15 million to HHA historic houses
  • 4.95 million to all English Heritage sites, National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • 12.5 million to sites where payment is required
  • 50 million to free access sites
  • 3 million to Historic Royal Palaces, including Hampton Court

Learning Outcomes

This module will develop postgraduate students’ knowledge of the theory underlying the educational functions of the historic house. It will appraise them of the importance of social inclusion; learning in the historic environment; and the digital heritage. It will also include guidance from professionals working in the Historic Houses industries on the practicalities of managing an historic house and conserving its contents within different organisational structures. It will examine the potential application of theoretical approaches to specific case studies.

Upon completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Outline the planning issues connected with new developments
  • List and discuss some of the complexities of running a country house both historically and in the twentieth century
  • Explain the historical contexts which led to the foundation of the HHA, NT and EH and outline their respective roles in the preservation and management of historic houses
  • Outline the main problems involved in conservation within the historic house environment and the ways in which such problems can be solved
  • Account for and contextualise the different fortunes of individual houses
  • Illustrate their arguments with reference to particular country houses

Assessment Method

  • 5,000 word essay