Historic Houses National AGM 2019

  • 15 Nov 2019
  • Article

The Historic Houses 2019 National AGM took place on Tuesday 12th November at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London. With thanks to our sponsors, Farrer&Co and Savills, we welcomed over 600 Historic Houses members to a day full of fascinating talks and the announcement of the winners of three of our annual awards.

Historic Houses AGM 2019
© Historic Houses

From the left: Ben Cowell, Director General, Sir William Proby, Patron, The Hon Martha Lytton Cobbold, Deputy President, James Birch, President, The Earl of Carnarvon, Honorary Treasurer

The morning session started in the Churchill Auditorium, with updates from Sir William Proby and The Earl of Carnarvon before our President, James Birch, took to the stand to discuss the past year's progress and future plans for the organisation. Items mentioned included the board away day, the success of Invitation to View tours, membership growth and the significant digital expansion over the past twelve months. Also brought to light was the forthcoming TV series 'An American's Guide to Great Estates', hosted by Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, of Mapperton House, who was invited on stage to discuss the series with James Birch.

Historic Houses AGM 2019 Julie Montagu
© Historic Houses

Viscountess Hinchingbrooke and James Birch discuss the forthcoming TV series

At midday we were excited to welcome the Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society, Sue Biggs CBE, onto the stage, where she discussed the history of the RHS, its mission and vision and some of the incredible work the organisation is doing to support horticulture, investing £160m in the area, including £40m from fundraising efforts.

Historic Houses AGM 2019 Sue Biggs
© Historic Houses

Sue Biggs CBE, Director General of the RHS

Upstairs, Historic Houses Corporate Members and suppliers offered guests a range of very specific products and services catered to managing the upkeep of an historic house. Included in the exhibition were a number of exciting demonstrations, such as painting restoration, engraving and even a VR experience.

Historic Houses AGM 2019
© Historic Houses

Demonstrations in the exhibition hall

After lunch, members returned to the Churchill Auditorium, where three of Historic Houses' four annual awards were formally announced. First up was the Garden of the Year Award, sponsored by Christie's Auction House, which was won by... Newby Hall & Gardens in North Yorkshire. The award was presented by Orlando Rock, Chairman of Christie's UK, to Richard and Lucinda Compton of Newby Hall. Read more about this year's winner here.

Historic Houses AGM 2019 Newby Hall
© Historic Houses

From left: James Birch, Lucinda Compton, Orlando Rock, Richard Compton


Next up was the announcement of the winners of the Historic Houses Restoration Award, sponsored by Sotheby's, which was won by... Dunvegan Castle & Gardens on the Isle of Skye. The award was presented by Lord Dalmeny, Chair of Sotheby's UK, to Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod. Read more about this year's winner here.

Historic Houses AGM 2019 Dunvegan Castle
© Historic Houses

From left: Lord Dalmeny, Hugh MacLeod, James Birch

The final award of the afternoon was given to the winner of the inaugural Historic Houses Kitchen Award, in association with Country Life and sponsored by Neptune, which was won by... Birdsall House in North Yorkshire. The award was presented to Lady Cara Willoughby. Read more about this year's winner here.

Historic Houses AGM 2019 Birdsall
© Historic Houses

Lady Cara Willoughby is presented with the Historic Houses Kitchen Award 2019

The day's programme ended with the Historic Houses Savills Lecture, with Andrew Harle, Executive Director of Savills, introducing the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle to address the hall. Famous not only for its international recognition as 'Downton Abbey', Highclere takes on an extraordinary number of commercial activities; from stewardship of the countryside and protecting various rare breeds, to producing their own beer and wines in their walled garden.

Historic Houses AGM 2019 Highclere Castle
© Historic Houses

The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon

It was another very successful Historic Houses AGM and we thank everyone who attended the event. We look forward to welcoming our members back in November 2020.


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