Members' Events
Image: collage of images and coloured blocks with copy 'The Chairman's Lectures'

Members' exclusive: The Chairman's Lectures

Curated by our Chairman, Sir Tim Laurence, these virtual lectures see some of our experts and historians discussing a variety of topics. Please see details below on how to watch them again.

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Image: Sir Tim Laurence

One of the greatest pleasures in my role as chairman of the English Heritage Trust is the opportunity it affords for learning – learning about our shared histories and the people and places that helped to shape England as we know it today. So, I’m delighted to be involved in this project that provides Members with an exciting opportunity to discover more about some of the sites and objects in our care, in the company of a selection of the charity’s leading experts.

These six lectures, exclusive to Members, cast fresh light on the stories of our properties and the people who lived in them. Each of the lectures is presented by a historian, curator or conservator and cover a rich and diverse array of English history.

Head properties curator Dr Jeremy Ashbee discusses what life was like in medieval castles. Senior properties historian Dr Michael Carter reveals what happened to England’s monastic treasures following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The conservation of The Vegetable Seller, a painting attributed to 16th-century Dutch master Joachim Beuckalear, is the subject of a lecture by paintings conservator Alice Tate-Harte, while senior properties historian Paul Pattison shares the secrets of one of England’s most significant Roman sites in his lecture, ‘Richborough: Gateway to Britannia’. Charles Darwin’s laboratory at the naturalist’s former home at Down House in Kent is the focus of a talk by landscape advisor Emily Parker. And senior properties historian Dr Megan Leyland shares her knowledge of Henrietta Howard, the former mistress of King George II, and the remarkable retreat she created at Marble Hill in London.

Each lecture (when aired live) was followed by an opportunity for you to put your questions to the speaker. If you couldn't attend any of the lectures on the day, don’t worry as you will have a chance to watch them on-demand below.

I do hope that you will take this opportunity to take part in this exciting new initiative, and I’d like to thank you for your continued support of English Heritage as Members.

Sir Tim Laurence
Chairman, English Heritage Trust

Henrietta Howard and her retreat at Marble Hill

Dr Megan Leyland, senior properties historian

Originally aired on Tuesday 8 March 2022, 6pm–7pm

Marble Hill was built in the 1720s by a remarkable woman: Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk. Situated on the banks of the River Thames in Twickenham, this perfectly proportioned villa is surrounded by gardens inspired by the ‘ancient’ past. Drawing on extensive research undertaken as part of English Heritage’s ‘Marble Hill Revived’ project, this talk will look at Henrietta Howard’s elegant retreat and her fascinating life. It will highlight the latest discoveries on the house and garden, and explore Marble Hill’s importance in the life of its intelligent and resourceful creator.

You can watch the lecture again now. 

Charles Darwin’s living laboratory at Down House

Emily Parker, Landscape Advisor

Originally aired on Tuesday 8 February 2022, 6pm–7pm

In 1859, while living at Down House in Kent, Charles Darwin published his theory of natural selection in his book On the Origin of Species. The garden at Down House was Darwin’s ‘living laboratory’, where he conducted hundreds of experiments on the natural world. In this lecture, Emily will take us behind the scenes of the project to reveal more about those experiments and the role they played in informing his groundbreaking theories.

You can watch the lecture again now. 

Image: Illustration of Paul Pattison and photo of Richborough Roman Fort

Richborough Roman Fort Gateway to Britannia

Paul Pattison, senior properties historian

Originally aired on Tuesday 11 January 2022, 6pm–7pm

Paul Pattison will talk us through the history of Richborough which started life as a Roman fort, then received imperial patronage in the construction of a huge monumental arch, thought to be a ceremonial entry to Britannia. Richborough then became a coastal town, with temples and an amphitheatre. This lecture will explore Richborough, its enigmatic place in Roman Britain, and its survival to the very end of Roman administration of our island.

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Conserving The Vegetable Seller by Joachim Beuckelear

Alice Tate-Harte, collections conservator (fine art)

Originally aired Tuesday 7 December 2021, 6pm–7pm

A painting known as The Vegetable Seller had been hidden from the public in a storeroom for 60 years until it was recently displayed at Audley End House in Essex following a two-year conservation treatment. In this lecture, Alice will explain how the painting was cleaned, resized and retouched, and will guide us through the ethics of the conservation treatment. She will also show us what the fruit and vegetables can reveal about the history of the painting. 

You can watch the lecture again now. 

Image: illustration of Michael Carter and photo of Rievaulx Abbey

What Happened to England's Monastic Treasures

Dr Michael Carter, Senior Properties Historian

Originally aired live on Tuesday 2 November 2021, 6pm–7pm

Between 1536 and 1540, on the orders of Henry VIII, every abbey and priory in England was forcibly closed. But what happened to England’s monastic treasures after the Dissolution – and how many of them survive today? In this lecture, our senior properties historian Dr Michael Carter looks at the fate of the gold and silver that were removed from these religious houses.

You can now watch the lecture again, plus see some of the answers to questions we didn't get to on the night.

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Image: illustration of Jeremy Ashbee  and photo of Brougham Castle

LIFE AND DEATH IN A MEDIEVAL CASTLE

Dr Jeremy Ashbee, head properties curator

Originally aired live on Tuesday 5 October 2021, 6pm–7pm

Many hundreds of castles stand throughout the country as witnesses to England’s history, but it can be difficult to connect the ragged and bare stonework with the people who formerly lived there. Dr Jeremy Ashbee will show some of the discoveries made to evoke the lost individuals and communities of medieval castles.

You can now watch the lecture again, plus see some of the answers to questions we didn't get to on the night. 

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