One-day conference will explore West Sussex country houses

West Sussex Archives Society offers a one-day conference West Sussex Country Houses on Saturday, September 25 at The Grange Community Centre, Bepton Road, Midhurst, GU29 9HD.

Caroline Adams
Caroline Adams

The conference will explore the rise, changes and adaptations of some of the country houses in West Sussex.

Spokesman Richard Howell said: “The United Kingdom is renowned for its country houses, and in West Sussex we are fortunate to have some of the finest in the land.

“Each speaker is an expert in their field and the conference will commence with a talk from Caroline Adams on Elizabethan Cowdray House, the ruins of which stand just outside Midhurst. Caroline, who was a senior archivist at the West Sussex Record Office, researched this period of Cowdray’s history whilst writing her PhD thesis.

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    “Caroline will be followed by Janet Pennington, a well-known local historian and author of several books and who gives many talks to various societies across the county. Janet will be talking about the Sherleys of Wiston House, a delightful country house set at the foot of the South Downs near Steyning, which was the subject of her MA dissertation.

    “Sue Berry will be crossing the county border from her home in East Sussex to give her talk, The Transformation of Country Houses and Their Settings on the West Sussex Downs c1680-1820. Sue has written a number of history books and this talk will be based on her latest publication, copies of which will be available to purchase on the day.

    “Towards the end of the 19th century the style and nature of the country house began to change, and the Arts & Crafts movement, headed up by William Morris and Philip Webb, started to gain favour. In West Sussex we have one of the finest Arts & Crafts houses in the country at Standen near East Grinstead, and this will be subject of Anne Stutchbury’s talk, ‘Standen – Now and Then: A Visual Tour.

    “Standen, and the Beale family who commissioned it, were the background to Anne’s own PhD thesis giving her a unique insight behind its story.

    “The conference will conclude with a talk by Adrian Tinniswood. Adrian is one of the country’s leading authorities on the country house and has written several books on the subject. His book, The Long Weekend, about life in the country house between the wars was described as a masterpiece of social history. His conference talk, entitled Noble Ambitions – The Fall and Rise of The Post-War Country House, will discuss the problems facing country house owners after World War Two and the different strategies they employed to overcome them.

    “The conference will offer a fascinating overview of our country house heritage and will appeal to anyone who enjoys these historic places. The conference will run from 10am to 4.30pm and the cost will be £30 per person which includes tea and coffee. Cash only on the door please.

    “Further details and booking form can be found on the West Sussex Archives Society website:”

    The programme is:

    10am – arrival and coffee

    10.25am – Philip Robinson, chairman of WSAS, welcome

    10.30am – Caroline Adams: Being desirous to live orderly and quietly within my lymytte – Hospitality and Power at Elizabethan Cowdray.

    11.20am – Janet Pennington: –The Sherleys of Wiston House.

    12.20pm – Sue Berry: The Transformation of Country Houses and their settings on the West Sussex Downs c1680-1820.

    2.15pm – Dr Anne Stutchbury: Standen – Now and Then. A Virtual Tour of an Arts & Crafts Country House.

    3.05pm – Adrian Tinniswood: Noble Ambitions – the Fall and Rise of the Post-War Country House.

    4pm – Conference ends.