The Country House Technology Project

The owners of country houses, together with the vast army of staff they employed, formed the background of much rural society until  at least 1914. From the 18th century, many technological innovations (such as gas and electric light, bells and telephones, piped water supplies, heating systems and sanitation) became available but the isolated nature of many country estates meant that country-house owners were usually unable to take advantage of public utilities and had to be self-sufficient in adopting these advances, with considerable effect on their estates, buildings and their workforce.

Waddesdon Manor
Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire - built for Ferdinand de Rothschild 1874-83, containing all the latest conveniences
Whilst many country house estates implemented such changes, others did not and continued to rely on older and often more labour-intensive technologies until the First World War forced change on landowners; an assessment of motivation for change is a key aspect of this research project. The decline of many country houses in the early 20th century means that considerable physical evidence has survived, showing  the impact of technological innovation on the building fabric, landscape of the estate and artefacts within the house, which the project team of Professor Marilyn Palmer and Dr Ian West are using to assess how these changes affected the social structure of the country house and its household in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

If you have any questions or information which you think might be of interest, please contact one of the project team.

This project was funded in part by The Leverhulme Trust

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MA programme bursaries available

Lamport Hall

The Lamport Hall Preservation Trust Ltd annually offers two bursaries for students with a place on The Country House: Art, Literature and History MA programme. Applicants for 2017 should contact Professor Phillip Lindley. The deadline for applications is Thursday 31 August.

The trust also offers one bursary for a DL Country House MA student. Deadline: 2nd February 2018

Contact the Centre for the Country House

Professor Phillip Lindley - Campus based and Distance Learning


Department of History of Art & Film
University of Leicester
University Road, Leicester

Tel: 0116 2522620