The focus of this conference is the survival and revival of historic houses in Ireland, the UK, and Europe in the course of the last fifty years. Across Europe increasing numbers of houses are opening their doors to the public, presenting and interpreting their histories in imaginative ways, looking to engage with local communities, and to diversify in terms of commercial activities. This holds true for houses in private ownership as well as for those in the guardianship of national heritage organisations, local authorities, or other bodies. Historic houses and their landscapes are uniquely poised to take advantage of international and domestic trends in cultural tourism and heritage learning. The historic house in all its manifestations remains a constant feature in the curriculum, from scholarly study to heritage, conservation, and management training, and the creative arts. The enduring relevance of the historic house is also defined by its role as an important economic driver at local, regional, and national levels.
Growing numbers of houses are engaging in numerous ways with the external world as opposed to feeling beleaguered and retreating behind closed doors. How do we assess this recent history? Every house operates under its own unique circumstances, influenced by governance, ownership, funding, scholarly investigation, national trends, or other factors. There is no single model for historic houses: each one makes different choices for creating a sustainable future. There are many definitions of the concept of ‘revival’.
The Country House Revived? is aimed at a wide audience of owners, scholars, students, heritage professionals, policy makers, and the many people with a general interest in the built heritage. Papers will examine a variety of topics and perspectives from across Europe, comparing issues and experiences that have affinities as well as contrasts. The conference will also explore ways in which this sector of the built heritage can foster future collaborative activity. Accompanying the conference will be a photographic exhibition illustrating a variety of houses from across Ireland, the UK, and Europe, and chronicling their recent past.