Call for Papers: Powering the Power House: New Perspectives on Country House Communities

RHN 138/2017 | Call

Organisers: Fiona Clapperton, Lauren Butler and Hannah Wallace (Collaborative PhD Candidates, The University of Sheffield and Chatsworth)

25-26 June 2018, University of Sheffield and Chatsworth, UK

Deadline for submissions: 27 October 2017

Call for Papers:
Powering the Power House:
New Perspectives on Country House Communities

This two-day conference seeks to bring together historians and heritage professionals to explore experiences of daily life and work in an extraordinary setting: the country house estate. The great rural seats of wealthy landowners have long captured academic interest and popular imagination. After the prospect of destruction threatened the survival of England’s remaining country houses in the 1970s, a concerted effort was made to protect them, and to recover the stories of those connected to them. Nevertheless, the history of the country house has primarily been perceived through the eyes of the landowners, with servants, tenants, and tradesmen confined to the peripheries – their lives dedicated to powering the power house.

This conference will focus on the individuals, groups, influences, and ideas that defined life in country houses and the communities surrounding them. The first day of the conference will take place at the University of Sheffield, and the second at Chatsworth, Derbyshire. This conference aims to foster cross-institutional dialogue on new approaches to the analysis and interpretation of country house communities.

We invite applicants to deliver 20-minute papers, 10-minute lightening talks, and posters (please specify in your abstract). These may focus on any time period, including the present day.

Suggested topics for papers include, but are not limited to:

  • Staffing and supplying the country house
  • Cross-class relations and navigating the country house hierarchy
  • The country house as a closed community: exploring themes of inclusion and exclusion
  • Networks, tourism and the travelling household
  • Interpreting the country house community for the public
  • Curating social history collections in the country house
  • Nostalgia and the ‘Downton Abbey’ effect
  • Locating servants, staff and the wider community in country house archives

Please send abstracts of between 200 and 300 words to along with a short biography, by Friday 27th October 2017. If you do not wish to present but are interested in attending, please email the conference committee at the above address to join the mailing list.