The English Country House: Center of the Universe
For centuries the country house has held a unique position in English social life and the history of the nation. Before the 20th century, the families in these power houses ruled Britain. Their houses were the center of productive agricultural communities, they provided social settings for grand events, and represented the Crown, and law and order in the county. One of their outstanding features were their art collections, with exceptional pieces of international importance ranging from the works of ancient Greece and Rome to art of the early 20th century. But their owners’ true passions were the building and rebuilding of their houses and the laying out of gardens and grounds. These amazing houses may possibly be the aristocracy’s greatest achievement, leaving for us today a rich tapestry that has transformed this symbol of aristocratic privilege into an icon of the national heritage. With this legacy it was virtually inevitable that the British country house would become a launching pad for some of the great achievements of modern times. The treaty that ended the American War of Independence, the discovery of oxygen, the founding of one of the world’s greatest museum complexes, and the invention of interior decoration — all of these happened, in one way or another, because of a historic English house. The story continues today… the newly rich buy country houses and re-infuse them with life and money, helping to continue the cycle of history.
Registration is $18 in advance, $22 at the door.
Curt DiCamillo is an American architectural historian and a recognized authority on the British country house. He has written, lectured, and taught in the U.S. and abroad on British history and leads scholarly tours that focus on the architectural and artistic heritage of Britain and its influence around the world. Since 1999 Curt has maintained an award-winning database on the web, TheDiCamillo.com, which seeks to document every English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish country house ever built, standing or demolished, together with a history of the families who lived in the houses, the architects who designed them, and the history of the houses’ collections and gardens.
In recognition of his work, Curt has been presented to the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and The Prince of Wales. He is an alumnus of both the Royal Collection Studies program and The Attingham Summer School for the Study of Historic Houses and Collections. In addition, Curt is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and a member of the Council of the American Museum in Britain. During the day he is the Curator for Special Collections at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, the world’s oldest and largest genealogical society.