LECTURES
Caroline Knight has been a lecturer at the V&A, for NADFAS (The Arts Society), and elsewhere, for some years. Her subjects include British and Italian architecture, combined with social history and the history of travel. Summaries of her lecture subjects are given below.  Some are particularly suitable as precursors to visits, such as that on Chiswick House, Dumfries House or Windsor Castle. Others relate to forthcoming and recent exhibitions, such as that on William Kent. Several can be adapted as study days; this is indicated at the end of each summary.

HISTORY OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY: PEOPLE, PLACES & PICTURES
The Royal Academy of Arts in Burlington House was founded in 1768 to promote contemporary painting, and to train young artists, sculptors and architects, as it does today. The history of its movement from Somerset House via the National Gallery to its present home reflects on the personalities and politics of the arts in Britain.

LONDON’S COUNTRY HOUSES
As a result of the rapid expansion of London, many houses that were originally in nearby villages are now within Greater London. Some, such as 17thC Ham House or neo-classical Osterley, are well known. Others, such as Marble Hill in Twickenham and Chiswick House, can also be visited. A few remain in private hands and are rarely open, many others are offices or schools. This lecture, based on her book on the subject, looks at a selection of these houses, which were the much-loved country retreats of courtiers, government ministers and City merchants. (STUDY DAY)

GRINLING GIBBONS, CARVER TO THE CROWN
Gibbons (1648-1721) came to England from the Netherlands, and developed a virtuoso style of carving, well suited to the Baroque interiors of late 17thC England. His limewood carvings with their festoons of fruit, flowers, fish and game embellished Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, and Kensington Palace, as well as country houses such as Petworth and Belton. His work was commissioned for public buildings and churches, and he also worked in marble, making church monuments. Two superb wood carvings are in the Victoria & Albert Museum: his ‘Lace Cravat’ and the relief panel of ‘The Stoning of Stephen.’

THE PALACES OF WILLIAM & MARY
In 1685 William & Mary built Het Loo in the Netherlands, an impressive hunting lodge, where their formal gardens have been beautifully restored. When they came to London in 1688 they used Whitehall Palace, but quickly bought what is now Kensington Palace as a retreat from the formality of court life. They asked Wren to rebuild Henry VIII’s Hampton Court, only finished after Mary’s sudden death in 1694. The state rooms of Hampton Court are a splendid example of Baroque interiors, and like the King’s Privy Garden which they overlook, have been superbly restored.

THE HISTORY OF KENSINGTON PALACE
Kensington Palace, overlooking Hyde Park, was turned into a royal residence in 1689 by William and Mary, with the help of their favourite architect, Sir Christopher Wren. Given a magnificent make-over in the early 18thC by William Kent, it has remained a royal home ever since. Caroline has researched the history of the Palace for a book which is coming out in 2018.

WINDSOR CASTLE, PAST & PRESENT
From 1672 Charles II turned this vast ancient fortress into a royal palace with Baroque state rooms, with Grinling Gibbons carving and painted decoration. In the 1820s George IV asked Sir Jeffry Wyatville to recreate it in the castle style. Towers and battlements were added, and the interiors given Old Master paintings and fine French furniture. The remarkable restoration following the late 20thC fire has left the castle with a fascinating mixture of the old and the new.

INIGO JONES AT THE STUART COURT: ARCHITECT & CONNOISSEUR
Inigo Jones was court designer and architect to James I and Charles I. Having studied Palladio’s buildings he designed sophisticated Italianate buildings in and around London, such as the Banqueting House, Whitehall, and the Queen’s House, Greenwich. He also designed theatres and costumes for the elaborate masques put on for the court. (STUDY DAY)

PALLADIO: VILLAS AND PALACES IN THE VENETO
Palladio (1508-1580) was an architect in and around Venice. He trained as a stone mason until a local landowner took him up, showed him ancient Rome and promoted his work. He became an architect, designing town palaces and country villas, including the famous Villa Rotonda. He also designed major buildings in Venice, such as San Giorgio Maggiore. His handsome illustrated book, The Four Books of Architecture, was published in 1570. It included many of Palladio’s designs, as well as the classical orders and Roman buildings. It was enormously influential, and is still in print. (STUDY DAY)

BURGHLEY & HATFIELD: HOUSES OF THE CECILS
Burghley House (Lincolnshire) and Hatfield House (Hertfordshire) are two of the finest Tudor and Jacobean houses of England. Robert Cecil, Lord Burghley, was Secretary of State to Elizabeth I from 1558 until his death.  He rebuilt Burghley as a great country house, fit to entertain the queen. His son Robert, Earl of Salisbury, was Secretary of State to Elizabeth and James I. The king offered him the royal palace at Hatfield, which Robert rebuilt as an innovative house in the early 17thC. These houses, still belonging to their Cecil descendants, have fascinating collections, and are open to the public.

WILLIAM KENT, GARDEN DESIGNER, ARCHITECT & DECORATOR
This lecture was originally instigated by the V & A’s recent exhibition on William Kent. Kent trained as an artist before spending ten years in Italy, where he studied painting, classical buildings and Italian gardens. Back in London in 1719, he became part of Lord Burlington’s household and his career flourished. As well as painting ceilings for Chiswick House and Kensington Palace, he worked as an architect, garden designer and interior decorator, and designed some impressive pieces of furniture. His gardens at Rousham (Oxfordshire) and Stowe (Buckinghamshire) are the finest surviving examples of the new landscape garden. (STUDY DAY)

HOUGHTON & HOLKHAM: TWO GREAT NORFOLK HOUSES
These two magnificent houses were rebuilt c. 1725-50; both are Palladian in style and both have sumptuous interiors with much original furniture, textiles and tapestries.  Houghton was built by the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and Holkham by Thomas Coke, later Earl of Leicester. Both houses were designed by several architects, with the designer William Kent playing a large part in the decoration of both houses. These two houses, still privately owned by the families who built them, are open to the public and make rewarding visits.

LORD BURLINGTON & CHISWICK HOUSE
This lecture would be suitable for a society planning a visit to Chiswick House in west London. It was designed by Lord Burlington in 1726 as an addition to his existing house, and as an exemplar of the Palladian style. Its painted ceilings by William Kent are full of Masonic imagery. The small but richly decorated rooms overlook innovative Italianate gardens, designed by Burlington and William Kent. The recent restoration of the gardens allows visitors to see one of the finest 18thC gardens in the London area.

THE GRAND TOUR: TRAVEL & COLLECTING IN THE 18thC
Young gentlemen in the 18thC completed their education by travel in Europe, especially Italy. This lecture looks at how, why and where they went, what they saw, and what they brought back with them. This included antique sculpture and Old Master paintings, as well as views of Venice, Rome and Naples; and of commissioned portraits too. Many Grand Tour purchases are still in the country houses of their descendants as in local and national museums.  (STUDY DAY)

LONDON IN THE 18thC: THE TERRACE HOUSE AND GARDEN SQUARE
The tall London terrace house overlooking a tree-filled square is a familiar image of London. This lecture looks at its 17thC origins in Covent Garden, and the development of London’s West End with well-planned streets and squares. Different functions were on different floors, providing flexible space for entertaining and living. London squares, with associated churches, still provide some of the most attractive places to live or work. The lecture ends with a discussion of the royal development, Regent’s Park, with its picturesque landscape setting.

BELOW STAIRS: SERVANTS IN THE 18thC HOUSE
Servants, both males and female, made up a large proportion of the working population of London, and were also numerous in country houses. What did their jobs entail? Where did they live? What did they wear? What were they paid? This lecture looks at servants in town and country houses throughout the 18thC.

THE ART OF DINING
The grand dining room, with its long table splendidly laid for dinner, is often shown today in country houses. How did it evolve? What sort of linen, silverware and china was required to put on a good show? This lecture shows how the hour of dining changed, as well as the food and how it was served, all affecting the appearance of the dining room.

ROBERT ADAM’S PRACTICE IN LONDON
Adam began his architectural career with the family firm in Scotland, then set up a London office in 1758, and was the designer of many neo-classical country houses both in England and Scotland. This lecture looks at Adam’s work in London: his elegant town houses with refined interior decoration. Some have been demolished, others remain; his important residential development, the Adelphi, survives in part. He also redesigned the interiors of Syon, Osterley and Kenwood, all on the outskirts of London and all open to the public. (STUDY DAY)

DUMFRIES HOUSE: SAVED FOR THE NATION
This lecture is intended as an introduction for groups planning to visit this Ayrshire house, designed by Robert Adam and built 1754-9 for the Earl of Dumfries. Remarkably, its original furniture survives, mostly bought from Thomas Chippendale in London; it is the best collection of his furniture still in situ in the house for which it was supplied. The house passed to the Bute family, and after 1993 was empty. In 2007 the house and contents were to be sold. At the last moment it was saved with the help of the Prince of Wales, and opened to the public in 2008.

LADY ANNE CLIFFORD, PROUD NORTHERN LADY (1590-1676)
She was the only child of the Earl of Cumberland, whose vast estates in Yorkshire and Cumbria were left at his early death to her uncle, not to her, starting a long legal battle. She made two splendid marriages. First, as Countess of Dorset, she was mistress of Knole; then as, Countess of Pembroke, of Wilton House. In 1643 she finally won back her original estates. Her later years were spent wholly in the north, restoring her dilapidated castles and rebuilding churches with monuments to her ancestors. She kept a diary for many years, and died aged 86.