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Call for Applications: British & Irish Furniture Makers Online and Furniture History Society digital research project

Posted on 7 March 2024

Applications are invited from MA students to engage in one of several possible exciting digital research projects involving the collections and furnishings of three prestigious historic British houses: Castle Howard, Raby Castle and Holkham Hall.

Furniture History Society digital research project 2024 banner

British and Irish Furniture Makers Online and the Furniture History Society invite applications from MA students at the University of Leeds, the University of York, the University of Buckingham, the Bard Graduate Center and Winterthur to engage in exciting digital research projects involving the collections and furnishings of three prestigious historic British houses: Castle Howard, Raby Castle and Holkham Hall. The deadline for the submission of applications for this project is Friday 15th March 2024. These projects will be conducted online.

This is a short research project of about three weeks to be carried out in late May and June 2024 (there is some flexibility as to the precise timing but only with the agreement of the relevant curator). Each project will be conducted online and will include both research and the creation of a public-facing digital product. Whilst the bulk of the work should be carried out within this time, there is some flexibility to work over the summer to refine the product.

Further details and an application form are available here.  

The Research Projects
Three research projects have been devised by curators and archivists of major houses in Britain. They engage with the history of furniture and interiors in the context of design, trade, manufacture and craft networks. Each one focuses on archival and published material from the house or collection. Students will be encouraged to explore the topic from a variety of perspectives and to develop their findings into a digital project of their own making, thus allowing students to consider different ways to engage with audiences.

Project 1: Castle Howard:
Early 18th century Chairs at Castle Howard

The purpose of this project with BIFMO-FHS is to pull together a body of research which explores the context of these chairs, from
stylistic design to use and display up to the present day, with the aim that this will contribute to the future interpretation and celebration of these important pieces of furniture.

 IMAGE: Chair attributed to James Moore © Castle Howard

Photo of chair from Castle Howard

Project 2: Raby Castle:
Raby Castle and Cleveland House

This project invites students to conduct research into the house and its contents to better help us understand the previously unexplored location. Using archives, furniture found on our CMS and first and second-hand accounts, the aim is for the students to develop a picture of the layout and some of the interiors of the London house. A blog or interactive output, using the floor plan and any existing furniture, would provide a helpful final overview of the research conducted.

IMAGE: Cleveland House, St. James's Square. Re- drawn from A. I. Dasent's History


Drawing of Cleveland House

Project 3: Holkham Hall:
Tracing the furniture and goods that were transferred from Thanet House to Holkham Hall and its prominence within the collection

The students will be invited to consider the following questions: how do these pieces sit in the rooms at Holkham? Is there any significance behind their new locations? How do their various locations around the house reflect the different uses of rooms, and the variety of tastes of subsequent generations? The aim of this project is to produce a map of Holkham showing the location of a selection of furniture pieces, as well as blog posts and textual interpretation exploring a selection of items and their changing location within the house. 

IMAGE: Andrea Casali (1705-1784), portrait of Thomas Coke, (1697-1759) 1st Earl of Leicester, Holkham Hall. Reproduced by permission of the Earl of Leicester and the Trustees of the Holkham Estate.


Portrait of Thomas Coke by Andrea Casali (1705-1784)