The John Cornforth Memorial Lectures
Event date February – April 2023
Event location London
We are delighted to announce The John Cornforth Memorial Lectures 2023, which will take place at Christie’s in London and will also be streamed online.
The John Cornforth Memorial Lectures tell the story of the country house and its estate, as seen through the eyes of the private owner. Proudly presented in association with Christie’s, the lecture series celebrates John Cornforth’s invaluable contribution to architectural history. This year, the proceeds of the lectures will be donated to the Historic Houses Foundation.
John Cornforth (1937–2004) was one of the best known architectural historians of his day and a leading authority on the English country house. Author of numerous books and more than 800 articles in Country Life, where for many years he was Architectural Editor, he shared his time and knowledge with country house owners and the National Trust as well as encouraging and mentoring young curators and architectural historians.
Robert Parker on Browsholme Hall, Lancashire
Built in 1507 by the Parker family, Browsholme Hall is the oldest surviving family home in Lancashire. Robert Parker inherited the property unexpectedly from a distant cousin in 1975 in a neglected condition. Although open to visitors since 1958, it was not until 2010 that a Grade II listed barn was restored as a venue for tourism, private functions and community events that created the financial foundation to support the Hall, gardens and parkland.
Lady Proby on Elton Hall, Cambridgeshire
Elton Hall is an extraordinary, romantic, part-Gothic historic house nestled in the beautiful countryside on the Cambridgeshire/Northamptonshire border, that has been in the Proby family for 400 years. Sir William and Lady Proby moved to Elton Hall in 1980 and since then Lady Proby has been involved in restoring the house and opening it to the public.
James and Claire Birch on Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire
Situated in the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside, Doddington Hall was built by Robert Smythson, one of England’s foremost Elizabethan architects. Continuing 400 years of unbroken family occupation, Claire Birch and her husband James took over the management of Doddington Hall in 2006, and have started a number of commercial ventures including an award-winning farm shop and café, to fund the continued improvement and restoration of the Hall.
Join us for our lecture series
8 King Street
London SW1Y 6QT
8 February 2023 | Robert Parker on Browsholme Hall, Lancashire
7 March 2023 | Lady Proby on Elton Hall, Cambridgeshire
19 April 2023 | James and Claire Birch on Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire
Reception: 6:30pm – 7pm GMT
Lecture: 7pm – 8pm GMT
Online lecture: 7pm – 8pm GMT
+44 (0) 20 7389 2755
Meet the speakers
Robert Parker lives at Browsholme Hall with his wife Amanda, children Eleanor and Roland, and continues the work of his father to administer and restore the estate. Robert inherited Browsholme Hall unexpectedly from a distant cousin in 1975, aged 20, which was then in a neglected condition but still retained the accumulated contents of the thirteen generations of the family who have lived there. Robert and his wife Amanda took over the running of the Hall and estate in the 1990s. Continuing the work his parents started, they concentrated on developing Browsholme within the community and making it economically sound and sustainable.
Since 2005, Robert Parker has been the technical adviser to Historic Houses , providing advice to members on all aspects of ownership, including commercial potential, repairs, collection management, filming, event management, energy efficiency and regulation.
Lady Proby is a currently a syndic of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, chair of its Development Trust and a member of the government’s Acceptance in Lieu panel. Since 1980, Lady Proby and her husband Sir William have been involved in restoring Elton Hall and opening it to the public. The couple have not only restored the complex roof and stonework, but also laid out new gardens, rehung pictures and redecorated the principal apartments.
Lady Proby began working for Christie’s not long after she and Sir William moved to Elton, and attended various seminars on conservation and sought advice from various experts. Supported by its 400 year history and Lady Proby’s expertise, Elton Hall holds one of the greatest art collections in Britain—every room contains magnificent treasures, from late 15th-century Old Masters, to a remarkable collection of 10,000 books scattered across three libraries.
James and Claire Birch
Claire Birch took over the management of Doddington Hall with her husband James in 2007, after inheriting the property from her parents Anthony and Victoria Jarvis. To fund the continued improvement and restoration of the Hall, they have started a number of commercial ventures including an award-winning farm shop and café, based on the restoration of the kitchen garden. Later more shops, a wedding business and another café have been added.
Alongside managing Doddington, Claire Birch is a member of the development board of Ashden, a charitable foundation recognising, rewarding, championing and promulgating innovations in energy conservation that reduce carbon emissions and improve quality of life. In 2021, Claire was also appointed new High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, supporting the judiciary, emergency services and crime prevention in the county.
The Earl of Devon on Powderham Castle, Devon
The Hon Henry and Martha Lytton Cobbold on Knebworth House,
Viscountess Grimston on Gorhambury, Hertfordshire
Main image: Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire