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A list of our past Spring conferences held at Corpus Christi College Cambridge are listed below, see the documents at the foot of the page for details of speakers and papers.

April 2019           From Pre-Raphaelites to Arts & Crafts 

The tenth annual conference examined the various artists and craftsmen associated with the two style, to disentagle popular misconceptions through a series of fascinating talks given by curators, historians, conservators and paint analysts focusing on the interiors and artists of both movements. We also enjoyed a rather fabulous private tour of the Grade II listed Church Rate Corner, one of the last Baillie Scott houses.  

April 2017         Gothic Revival - The Past Re-imagined

The ninth annual Cambridge conference continued the sections chronological appraisal of historic interiors  through the centuries by focusing on the Gothic Revival Period. The highly decorative interiors of churches, country houses  and civic buildings reflected the designs and forms  of the Medieval period. The conference considered  the influence of the Cambridge Movement  and its effects on church architecture and interiors as well as the importance of the interiors of the Palace of Westminster. The wide range of topics covered church organs, textiles, wallpapers, frames and wall-paintings.

April 2016         The Great Exhibition of 1851

The eighth annual Cambridge conference focused on the the Great Exhibition of 1851 held at the Crystal Palace in London. The Great Exhibition was the first international exhibition of manufactured products and was enormously influential not only in technology but also in decorative art and design. The proposed international exhibition called for an enclosed space of unprecedented size, which was provided at breakneck speed using new technologies. Within the exhibition, one could find an enormous array of exotic and highly decorative objects from around the world. Scientific advances introduced new techniques which created objects of great beauty.  This fascinating topic looked at the making of the Crystal Palace and its legacy, taxidermy, metalwork and the reform of household taste.

March 2015       Revolution! Technology in the 19th Century Historic Interior

The seventh annual Cambridge conference examined the technological advances which influenced the development of the historic interiors in the 19th century. Topics ranged from the introduction of heating and lighting to the changes in  the manufacture of decorative elements such as paints and wallpapers. Papers were presented by a wide range of multi-disciplinary speakers who discussed the developments in technology and the design opportunities they provided.

March 2014        Regency Interiors (1795-1837)

The sixth annual Cambridge conference examined the distinctive and often exotic interiors of the Regency Period (1795-1837). Papers considered the stylistic and technical developments of wall papers, furniture, frames, decorative surfaces and textiles during this period with reference to recent research and conservation projects.

March 2013        Vice and Virtue in the 18th Century

The fifth annual Cambridge conference focused on the decoration and fittings of diverse 18th century public interiors such as churches, theatres and spas, and consider the issues surrounding the conservation and use of these examples of living heritage.

April 2012         The Country House in the 18th Century

The fourth annual Cambridge conference focused on the architecture of English Country houses at their finest period, technical and artistic developments, including the role of the Grand Tour on decorative interiors and their furnishings, economic influences of the period and historical and current methods and costs of maintaining country houses and their historic contents.

April 2011         Historic Interiors in Secular Buildings 1600-1700

The third annual Cambridge conference examined the historic interior in Secular Buildings (1600-1700). The conference focused on the transformation of the interior which occurred during this turbulent period in British History in terms of structure, function, decoration, lighting, heating, furnishing and aesthetics - and the buildings relationship to its gardens in both the grand and vernacular properties.

April 2010        Historic Interiors in Secular Buildings 1300-1600

The second annual Cambridge conference focused on the structure of secular buildings and the variety of decorative interiors and furnishings. The talks included the relationship  between the building and its contents, the function of kitchens, the use of textiles, plaster work, wall paintings, furniture and the paintings within the overall decorative schemes.


Past Visits & Social Events

October 2019         Pub Quiz

Our first Historic Interiors themed pub quiz was held at The George Coaching Inn, Southwark and included prizes. Fun had by all - watch out for the next one.....


February 2019       An Evening Exploring Frederic Leighton's Private Palace of Art, its History and its Conservation

We hosted our AGM and invited guests to spend an evening exploring the wonderful Leighton House Museum, South Kensington following the £1.6m restoration programme.

We welcomed Daniel Robbins, Senior Curator, Museum and Dante Vanoli, Project Architect, Purcell to introduce the building and the project. Our group members Helen Hughes and Allyson MeDermott were also on hand to discuss the architectural paint research and wallpaper conservation carried out during the project.

January 2019      A Bed of Roses – The Mystery Bed

In 2010 a dismantled antique four-poster bed was left for collection in a car park in Chester. It was later sold at auction as a 'profusely carved Victorian four poster bed with armourial shields'. However, its now owner thought the oak looked much older and was impressed by the quality of the carving. He then embarked on an exploration of the object's past, employing an unusually broad array of archaeological, forensic and art historic analyses which produced startingly variable, and sometimes contradictory, research findings - even from the same methodology.

When all of the evidence is collated what can we conclude - it is a fifteenth century royal bed, or a revival from the age of antiquarianism?

The Historic Interiors group hosted a one day symposium at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Kensington to discuss the bed. We were joined by speakers from the British Museum, Manchester Metropolitan University, The Langley Collection, University of Lincoln, Thunen Institute Hamburg, Dr Jonathon Foyle and Helen Hughes. 

We were also delighted to see an article in the National Geographic following the event.

July 2018            Slavery & Architecture: A walking tour of Bristol

A walking tour of the city assessing Bristol landmarks with a view to revealing often hidden associations with the slave trade, the wider slave economy and the Black presence in Bristol and conclude with a private tour of the Georgian House. The tour was led by Dr Madge Dresser, Honorary Professor in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Bristol and Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Arts & Cultural Industries at the University of the West of England. 

July 2017          Clerkenwell, London

Historic Interiors Group AGM held on Monday 31st July 2017 at 75 Cowcross Street, Clerkenwell, London followed by a visit to Old Sessions House - A late 18th century Magistrates Court

Historic Interiors Members were given a unique opportunity to visit the interiors of the Old Sessions House, Clerkenwell Green, EC1R.

The building contains a spectacular Domed Entrance Hall, two former court-rooms and the site of former prison cells in the basement. From the 1930's it was used as offices before becoming a Masonic Hall. The building has an exciting future. The history and development of the building will be presented by the owners Ted & Oliver Grebelius, the local conservation officer and several conservators who have been involved in the project.

2014               Joined Up Thinking: Textiles and this Historic Interiors Spring Forum

A joint event hosted at the Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck College, London full of talks and posters followed by a social evening. The forum included talks on the Queen's Ante Chamber wall hangins at Ham House (May Berkouwer), Tale of Two Arts and Crafts Houses (Helen Elletson), A house Lost in Time (Emma Slocambe),  Inspired by Knole (Siobhan Barrett) and Conservation of Westonbirt House (Jenny Band).

2013               Wine & Cheese Evening & Tour of Historic Southwark, London

A one hour walking tour through the fascinating but sometimes neglected area of Southwark was followed by wine and cheese at the Grade I listed 17th century George Inn.

2013                Study Day , Ham House

Study day to focus on the extraordinary in situ survival of the late 17th century  Queen's Antechamber wall hangings at Ham House. Following a brief tour of the house to set the context for the Queen's Antechamber, May Berkouwer from May Berkouwer Textile Conservation gave a presentation  about the recent conservation work to the wall hangings and discussed the evidence revealed during the course of treatment to rediscover previous interventions and gain more knowledge about associated silk damasks dating from the 17th & 19th centuries.

2011               Breakfast at the Reform Club, Pall Mall

A morning at magnificent 1880's Reform Club including private breakfast in the Library followed by a talk on the conservation programme.

2006              Stourhead, Warminster

An Autumn visit to Stourhead, one of the finest and most carefully restored  interiors in Britain.

2003              Tyntesfield, Somerset

A two hour tour of the then newly acquired National Trust property tailored to meet the interests of the Historic Interiors group members, concentrating on the buildings decorative interiors. In addition there was an opportunity to visit the nearby studios of Bush & Berry Conservation.

A review of the visit can be found in documents.


Image: Hampton Court Palace; C Owen