The Group's conferences are where members meet to study buildings and discuss their findings. Conferences are open to all members.
In the spring members and guests meet in a different part of the country each year to visit a selection of buildings in the local vernacular tradition. Local experts are on hand to explain the background and more experienced members help others to interpret them. In the evenings, lectures and discussions allow the day's findings to be explored further.
Spring Conference 2018
- The next spring conference will be held in North Wales on 3-8 April 2018. It will be based in comfortable, modern accommodation on the Ffriddoedd campus at Bangor University. Each day will present a variety of historic buildings and spectacular scenery in relatively little-known countryside. Day 1 will introduce us to Anglesey, taking in late medieval gentry houses and nineteenth-century peasant farmsteads as well as the ancient seaside borough of Beaumaris. Day 2, in the Denbighshire Clwyd and Upper Dee Valleys, will include a number of recently discovered early sixteenth-century cruck-framed hall houses; and day 3 will focus on the beautiful Conwy Valley, which derives much of its character from the outstanding fifteenth- and sixteenth-century vernacular. With some churches and slate-workers’ housing thrown in, this should prove to be an enjoyable and stimulating trip.
Spring Conference Bursaries
- Bursaries are offered each year to enable a registered student or a professional in the early years of his or her career to attend the spring conference. Further information on how to apply in 2018 will be published here in due course.
Previous Spring Conferences
- 2000 - Staffordshire
- 2001 - Suffolk
- 2002 - Ireland-Dublin
- 2003 - Essex
- 2004 - Yorkshire
- 2005 - North Wales
- 2006 - Somerset
- 2007 - Cambridgeshire
- 2008 - Devon
- 2009 - Jersey
- 2010 - Northumbria
- 2011 - Oxfordshire
- 2012 - East Midlands
- 2013 - South Wales
- 2014 - Gloucestershire
- 2015 - Cumbria
- 2016 - Lincolnshire
- 2017 - Hertfordshire
The winter conference takes a theme of current interest and explores it in depth through papers given by experts in the field.
Winter Conference 2018
- The next winter conference will take place at College Court, Leicester, on 6-7 January 2018. The theme will be Vernacular Survival: the vernacular architecture of the ‘long eighteenth century’. This is a period which has not aroused unanimous enthusiasm among vernacularists. The vernacular architecture of the period between the mid-seventeenth century and the early nineteenth century is apt to be represented as a long, uneventful diminuendo, spelling the gradual extinction of a living vernacular tradition. The resulting neglect of the period, particularly in England, has prevented us from developing the increasingly textured and resilient evidence base that we have come to take for granted in earlier periods. More than twenty years after Georgian Vernacular (1996), the outcome of a joint VAG and Georgian Group symposium, this conference will re-examine the period in the light of recent regional, national and transatlantic research. It will explore the barometer of change over the course of this long but far from changeless period, including the persistence of vernacular forms and practices within the wider building culture, the tension between tradition and innovation in materials and design, the social choices manifested through the appropriation of polite forms to everyday buildings, and the emergence, by the end of the period, of a tentative understanding of vernacular architecture as regionally diverse and culturally significant.
Winter Conference Bursaries
- Bursaries are offered each year to enable a registered student or a professional in the early years of his or her career to attend the winter conference. Further information on how to apply in 2018 will be published here in due course.
Previous Winter Conferences
- December 1999 - The Use of Tree-ring Dating for Research
- December 2000 - Vernacular Architecture and Related Fields
- December 2001 - The Transition from the Medieval to the Early-Modern House Revisited
- December 2002 - News From the Regions
- December 2003 - VAG 50th Anniversary Conference: Celebration and Speculation
- December 2004 - Vernacular Buildings and the Church
- December 2005 - Buildings, Rebuildings and Vernacular Thresholds
- December 2006 - Houses of Mud and Earth
- December 2007 - Towns and Town Houses 1000-1700
- December 2008 - Marginal Architecture
- December 2009 - The Polite Threshold
- January 2011 - Service Rooms, Servants' Chambers, and Storage
- January 2012 - Where, When and Why? - Themes and Ideas in Vernacular Architecture Studies inspired by J T Smith
- January 2013 - The Medieval Peasant House Revisited
- January 2014 - Attention to Detail
- January 2015 - Farmsteads in Focus
- January 2016 - Vernacular Boundaries
- January 2017 - Seeing the wood and the trees: the management of timber from source to building site
Oxford Weekend Schools
The Group contributes to an annual weekend school held in Oxford in the autumn and run by the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education. It is open to the public.
Oxford Weekend School 2017
- The next weekend school, Cruck Buildings: Origins, Distribution, Significance and Derivatives, will take place from Friday 29 September to Sunday 1 October 2017. Cruck buildings form one of the most distinctive elements of British vernacular architecture. This weekend will present recent thinking on the origins of crucks, where and why they were used, in what types and dates of building they were employed and by what social groups, and what factors have led to their survival in particular places. Explanations will range from the practical to the cultural. Consideration will also be given to types of structure related to, and derived from, true crucks, as well as to the co-existence of cruck and other building traditions in the same geographical area. Details can be found on the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education website.
Previous Oxford Weekend Schools
- The Vernacular Workshop - from craft to industry, 1400-1900
- Housing for the Masses, 1800-2000
- Diffusion and Invention - vernacular building in England and the New World
- Estate Building: The Impact of Estates on the Built Landscape
- Vernacular Interiors in the British Tradition
- Markets and Market Places
- Medieval Domestic Cultures
- The Eighteenth Century Town House
- Medieval Communal Life and its Buildings
- Getting About: Buildings and Inland Transport
- Workers' Homes: Improvement and Technology
- Vernacular Revivals
- Recording Town Buildings
Tip: if all the residential places on Oxford Weekend Schools are already taken, you may be able to find alternative student accommodation in Oxford at various prices via University-Rooms.
Other Conferences and Visits
Visit to France 2016
The VAG arranged a trip to the Maine region of France on 23-27 June 2016. A full report is available on the Members' Area.
Visit to Denmark
The VAG organised a trip to Denmark on 8-14 June 2014, visiting a number of historic towns and some of the many long-established folk museums, where historic buildings have been collected together to illustrate the regional differences.
Saeters and Stave Churches
The group organised a tour to Norway on 16-26 June 2011 to visit some of its notable timber buildings. These images of Norwegian houses and scenery were sketched by VAG member Malcolm Birdsall some twenty-five years ago (copyright reserved). A full report is available on the Members' Area.