On Saturday 1 March past and present students of the MSt in Building History gathered in the Faculty for a weekend of varied edification and entertainment. At the centre of the weekend’s events was the inaugural Building History Annual Lecture. Maurice Howard, Professor of History of Art at the University of Sussex, President of the Society of Antiquaries of London and of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and a noted authority on 16th and early 17th-century art and architecture, delivered a well-attended, lively and thought-provoking lecture on ‘The patron of architecture in early modern England: the case of Elizabeth I’. Professor Howard’s theme ranged from the more familiar ground of royal palaces and progresses to less frequently considered aspects of Elizabeth’s patronage, including educational endowments and disaster relief in towns such as Nantwich. The lecture was followed by a specially arranged dinner for students and guests at the University Centre.
The next day, those who were able to prolong their stay travelled to Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk, a moated 15th-century brick courtier house belonging to the National Trust. The architectural development of the house was introduced by the Building History Course Director Dr Adam Menuge, drawing upon detailed investigation and research undertaken for English Heritage. An additional dimension was supplied by Wendy Andrews (Cohort 1; now a doctoral candidate in the Faculty), whose MSt dissertation illuminated the wallpaper history of the house and led to the mounting of a newly opened exhibition at Oxburgh.
Thanks to the generosity of the Bedingfeld family the party’s experience of the house also benefited from seeing parts of the house normally closed to visitors.
The weekend has established an admirable precedent upon which we hope to build in future years. It has also proved an enjoyable gathering for students and an opportunity to build continuity and cohesion between cohorts.