Our organisation

Historic Houses is the trading name of the Historic Houses Association, 2 Chester Street, London SW1X 7BB, a not-for-profit organisation and limited company registered in England and Wales (02001057).

Our values and aims

We believe that lived-in historic houses are vital parts of our history, shaping the nation’s cultural landscape while providing present-day opportunities for commerce, creativity and community. At Historic Houses we help independent owners to keep their historic homes and gardens in good repair, ensuring their accessibility for current and future generations.

In order to fulfil these values we have set out on a four year programme to achieve the following strategic priorities:

  • Be the champion of the independently owned historic house sector;
  • Promote the conservation of house member properties;
  • Help raise the profile and understanding of our house members;
  • Engage and foster partnerships with heritage, tourism and business organisations;
  • Create a sustainable future to ensure the longevity of our support;
  • Ensure we are fit for purpose by being effective, efficient and transparent.

Our structure

Historic Houses is managed by a Board of Directors, responsible for leading the organisation by making decisions on policy, financial, and strategic matters.  The Board is governed in turn by a Council formed of the Board and regional representatives from Historic Houses' thirteen Regional Committees. The Council acts as an oversight and advisory body to the Board of Directors reviewing their strategic decisions and actions taken, on behalf of the members.  The Council also provides dialogue with our member houses in the regions allowing us to understand and address their concerns as part of our overall strategy.

The day-to-day running of Historic Houses is lead by the Director General and supported by a team of skilled, knowledgeable and committed staff from our Chester Street office.  The staff team lead on areas including marketing, development, finance, membership, and policy.

Historic Houses also draws upon two committees who advise the Board. The Taxation and Political Committee and Tourism and Development Committee draw upon considerable expertise and experience from our members and other heritage and business partners.

Our growing Next Generation Committee also works to engage, educate and support our next generation members, who are expected to succeed to the ownership and management of member houses in the future.

the board

James Birch image
James Birch

President | Since 2016

James Birch became HHA President in November 2016. He had previously been Deputy President and Honorary Treasurer. James and his wife Claire live at Doddington Hall in Lincolnshire, a late Elizabethan house by Robert Smythson. Since taking over Doddington in 2007 they have added four shops and extensive catering facilities for visitors. Employment on the estate has grown from 20 to over 100. James had previously worked in finance and Claire in advertising.

The Hon Mrs Martha Lytton Cobbold image
The Hon Mrs Martha Lytton Cobbold

Deputy President | Since 2016

Martha, a dual citizen of the US and UK, graduated from NYU with a double major in Journalism and History of Art, she lives with her husband Henry in his ancestral home, Knebworth House, where they are at the 19th generation since it was built in 1490. Martha has worked directly with the estate since 1993, and is the Managing Director of the leisure management business and estate overseeing and running the lettings, day visitor season, catering, events, concerts, films and diversification projects. She administrates the charitable trust on behalf of 9 trustees. In addition to working with a number of regional committees in farming, business, and tourism, including being the current Co-Chair of Visit Herts, Martha Chairs the Tourism and Commercial Development Committee for HH. Martha and Henry have two grown-up children, and a pair of rescue Great Dane dogs.

Sir Richard Fitzherbert Bt image
Sir Richard Fitzherbert Bt

Board Member | Joined 2009

Richard lives with wife Fiona at Grade II* listed Tissington Hall near Ashbourne in Derbyshire’s Peak District. Richard inherited the Hall and 2000 acre Estate from his late uncle in 1989 at the age of 25 and has been trying to restore it ever since. They took the Village Tearooms back in hand and now run it successfully, catering for groups and visitors to the adjacent Tissington Hall, as well as the visitors to the village. Before inheriting Richard worked in the wine trade in London. Estate businesses also include a wedding venue, holiday cottages, B&Bs, an Estate shoot and miscellaneous lets. They have six dogs and two cats to try and keep the house warm.

The Rt Hon The Lord Inglewood DL image
The Rt Hon The Lord Inglewood DL

Board Member | Joined 2005

Lord (Richard) Inglewood trained as a lawyer and was called to the bar in 1975. He served as Minister for Heritage 1995-1997, having been a government whip in the House of Lords 1994-1995. He also served as MEP between 1989 and 1994, and then again from 1999 to 2004. His family house is Hutton-in-the-Forest in Cumbria.

Andrew, Earl of Hopetoun image
Andrew, Earl of Hopetoun

Board member | Joined 2015

The Earl of Hopetoun is Chairman of Hopetoun Estates and resident trustee at Hopetoun House. Hopetoun, with its related estates, is managed as a diversified rural tourism, hospitality, events, agricultural and property business. With a background in nuclear physics and software and systems engineering, Andrew worked for Intense Ltd., a Scottish opto-electronics firm, and prior to that at the GEC group of companies (subsequently BAE Systems). Andrew chairs Historic Houses Scotland.

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Sarah Callander Beckett

Board member | Joined 2016

Sarah Callander Beckett was born in London, educated in England and Italy and worked in the Far East and North America. In 1992 she inherited Combermere Abbey in Cheshire, undertaking a bold restoration of its buildings and renaissance from near collapse into a fully diversified estate mixing tourism and events with agriculture. A passionate supporter of the built heritage and conservation she is Chairman of the Historic Houses Northwest Region and an Historic Houses board director. She was a Director of the CLA, and is a Trustee of Cheshire Community Foundation, a Deputy Lieutenant for Cheshire and a past High Sheriff. She is married to Peter Beckett and has a son Peregrine.


Board member |

Lady Cobham spent twenty years restoring her home, Hagley Hall, and developing commercial ventures to support it. She was a Special Adviser at DCMS and, inter alia, sat on the boards of Historic England, HRP and the V&A. In 2017 she completed 8 years as Chairman of VisitEngland. She chairs the Museum Prize Trust and is Director General of “earn and learn” focussed 5% Club. She is currently assisting a private client on planning and design for a Grade I house in London.

Sir James Scott Bt DL  image
Sir James Scott Bt DL

Board member | Joined 2007

Sir James Scott was born in Winchester. After university he worked as an agricultural journalist for 11 years before running his family’s estate south of Alton for 30 years. He belongs to and is a supporter of almost every know rural acronym. He also lends his support to a wide variety of local organisations, in particular the Hampshire Playing Fields Association, where he is an active president, and the Eggars Site Foundation, which he chairs. He has been a county councillor and was High Sheriff of Hampshire in 2004/5. Nationally he is deputy president of the Royal Forestry Society and on the board of Historic Houses. He is married to Judy and they have a total of four children and eight grandchildren.

Jason Lindsay image
Jason Lindsay

Board member | Joined 2015

After a career as an Old Master Paintings specialist at Sotheby’s London, Jason then dealt in 20th-century French Paintings. He inherited Hedingham Castle in Essex in 1998, moving there full time with his wife and family in 2004, running it as a wedding and events business. He is passionate about art and architecture and the great outdoors.



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Tourism & Commercial Development


Martha Lytton Cobbold, Duchess of Argyll, Sir Brooke Boothby, William Browne-Swimburne, Lucy Cavendish, Bernard Donoghue, Simon Foster, James Hervey-Bathurst, John Hoy, Norman Hudson, Sir Thomas Ingilby, Alice Kennard, Jason Lindsay, Caroline Lowsley-Williams, Andrew Norman, Robert Parker, Eleni Stephenson Clark, Sarah Troughton, Simon Cunliffe-Lister, James Birch.

Tax committee image
Tax committee


Sir James Scott, Tim Adams, James Birch, Ruth Cornett, Earl of Derby, James Hervey-Bathurst, Lord Inglewood, Meriel Laverack, William Massey, Giles Mounsey-Heysham, Wendy Philips, James Saunders Watson, Michael Sayer, Louise Speke, Rhoddy Voremberg.


Annual Reports

01 Nov 2017

2017 Annual Report

Annual reports
01 Nov 2016

2016 Annual Report

Annual reports
01 Nov 2015

2015 Annual Report

Annual reports
01 Nov 2014

2014 Annual Report

Annual reports