Shell House Talks
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Shell House Talks    
Illustrated Talks

A Sample of our Lectures -

  • We adapt each one to highlight local gardens and features.
  • Titles can be merged to cater for the spectrum of the 4 centuries.
1. The Shell –
ancient symbol and decorative feature within the British house and garden.
  • Shell symbolism in mythology.
  • The shell form as a decorative feature in British C18th interior design.
  • The shell form in contemporary design.
  • British and Irish shell house and grotto decoration / restoration in landscape gardens.
2. 18th century Shell Houses and Grottoes within British landscape Gardens - a survey featuring Mary Delany and other shell artists and collectors.
  • Changes in C18th landscape design in Britain and Ireland.
  • The Grand European Tour.
  • The importance of women in developing the changing function and decoration of shell houses/grottoes.
  • Rococo.
  • Shell artists featured: Lady Hertford, Catherine de la Poer, Countess of Tyrone, Mary Delany, Alexander Pope, Duchess of Portland, the Parminter cousins, the Goldney sisters, the Lennox sisters, the Dalrymple sisters.
  • The Cabinet of Curiosities and female collectors in the Enlightenment.
3. Romantic Shell Houses and mysterious Grottoes in the English 19th century Arcadian landscape.
  • The ‘picturesque’ garden in the early C19th in relation to the grotto/shell house.
  • Victorian Pulhamite grottoes and rockeries.
  • Contemporary grotto and shell house revival - Leeds Castle, Simon Verity, Quinlan Terry, Blott - Kerr- Wilson, Belinda Eade and Diana Reynell.
4. “A sublime shell house arcadianza!” Female creativity in the changing design, decoration and restoration of British shell houses and grottoes.

Celebrating the lives and influences on female shell artists:

  • Mary Delany’s seventy years’ interest- her seven garden features in Ireland and the south of England from 1720s onwards.
  • Caroline and Emily Lennox of Goodwood and Carton House, Kildare.
  • Catherine de la Poer of Curraghmore House, Co Waterford.
  • Diana Reynell: modern restorer: Wimborne St Giles, Walton Bath House, Goldney, Goodwood, Painshill, Marlborough Mound, Mount Edgecumbe, Leeds Castle.
  • Blott Kerr-Wilson: modern restorer: Belcombe Court, Eaton Hall, Cilwendeg (Wales) Ballymaloe (Ireland).
  • Belinda Eade, Linda Fenwick, Fiona Jackson, Sarah Greenall, Tess Morley.
5. A historical survey of the British grotto in landscape gardens and estates with special reference to the craftsmanship of Joseph and Josiah Lane of Tisbury, Wiltshire and to The Pulhamite Family.
  • The Grand Tour and the role of aristocracy and landowner.
  • Fashion: the classical and the sublime;’ picturesque’, natural and ‘Gothick’.
  • Bath, Wiltshire, Dorset, Surrey Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.
  • Influential figures: Allen, Kent, Pope, Chambers, Delany ,Hamilton, Beckford, Hoare, Capability Brown, Sanderson Miller and Humphry Repton.
  • Stourhead, Painshill, Oaklands, the four Fonthill grottoes, Belcombe, Bowood and Bowden. Charlemont and Old Wardour.
  • Some surprises and conundrums.
  • Shifts in design, decoration and use.
6. ‘A sense of the smaller landscape’. A contemplative journey into the home and garden retreats of twenty writers in the British Isles from the 1720s to the present day.
  • Time and place, retreat and control. The nature of writing.
  • Home and office. Town and country.
  • Pope, Walpole, Carlyle, Wordsworth, the Brontes, Shaw, Yeats, Kipling, Henry James, Lawrence, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Daphne du Maurier, Dylan Thomas, Amis, Self and others.
  • A darker note on Chatterton, Gissing, Anne Frank, Sylvia Plath.
Future Publications
  • ‘A Sublime Shell House Arcadianza!’ Female Creativity in the Changing Design, Decoration and Restoration of British Shell Houses 1800-2000.
Past Publications
  • Conchinilia Journey II (2018).
  • The Grotto Work of Joseph & Josiah Lane of Tisbury Wiltshire (2017).
  • Conchinilia Journey (2015).


Shell House Talks - A Series Of Lectures
Lectures - 2019 - click here for more ....
Book - Conchinilia Journey II - A unique catalogue of British and Irish shell artists
Book - Conchinilia Journey II.
A unique catalogue of British and Irish shell artists and their designs in grottoes, shell houses, pavilions and garden landscapes from the 18th century to the present day.
Available for £15 + £2.00 P&P from the writers.
Conchinilia Journey II - click here for more ....
Book - Half-Forgotten - the grotto work of Joseph Lane and his son Josiah.
Book - Half-Forgotten.
The grotto work of Joseph Lane and his son Josiah.
Available for £10 + £2.00 P&P from the writers.
Half-Forgotten - click here for more ....
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