The Group's conferences are where members meet to study buildings and discuss their findings. Conferences are normally open to members only, although guests may be accepted if space is available. However, we are currently offering conferences online which are open to all and are free of charge..
East Anglia Vernacular Buildings
- This online conference was held on Saturday 17 April 2021 from 10am to 4.30pm, and replaced the VAG Spring Conference for 2021. The conference explored the development of buildings in East Anglia from the Middle Ages through to the eighteenth century. East Anglia was a wealthy region in the Middle Ages and underwent significant changes in its economy and society during the following centuries. The relatively high survival of medieval and post-medieval buildings has long made it a focus of study. This conference explored the ways in which East Anglian buildings developed and changed over these centuries. Recordings of the talks can be watched by exploring the VAG YouTube Channel or by following the links below.
- The Landscape Context for East Anglian Vernacular Buildings by Edward Martin
- Aisled and Raised-aisle Halls of East Anglia by John Walker
- Meadow Cottage, Blacksmith’s Green, Wetheringsett: a sub-medieval farmhouse in pastoral mid-Suffolk by Philip Aitkens
- Re-assessing the Great Rebuilding on the South Norfolk Claylands by Ian Hinton
- Norfolk Domestic Wall Paintings: Survival, Style & Colour, 1550-1700 by Andrea Kirkham - not recorded for copyright reasons
- Some Buildings of Debenham by Timothy Easton
- No-one Looks at Harwich by Elphin & Brenda Watkin
The winter conference takes a theme of current interest and explores it in depth through papers given by experts in the field. In normal times the winter conference is open to members and guests only; please see the Membership page for details of how to join the group. Bursaries are usually 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. Enquiries: please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latest Winter Conference: Houses and the Hearth Tax in Britain
- The latest winter conference, on the theme of Houses and the Hearth Tax in Britain, took place online on Saturday 9 January 2021 from 10am to 4.30pm. Hearth Tax records are an excellent source for researching the history of housing. Records survive from 1662 to 1688 for England and Wales and 1690s Scotland. This conference explained how hearth taxes can be useful for researching houses, and how to make sense of lists of names and hearth numbers in relation to the housing stock. Most speakers are engaged in the British Academy Hearth Tax Project, which publishes Hearth Tax returns for England in print and on Hearth Tax Digital. Recordings of the talks can be watched by exploring the VAG YouTube Channel or by following the links below.
- Introduction by Adrian Green
- The Challenges of the Hearth Tax as a Historical Source by Catherine Ferguson, general editor of the British Record Society hearth tax series. Centre for Hearth Tax Research | University of Roehampton
- Session 1: Two Cities
- The Hearth Tax in London – Whitechapel Revisited by Peter Guillery. Recording not available for copyright reasons. Publications: The Small House in Eighteenth-Century London (2004); The London and Middlesex Hearth Tax (British Record Society, 2014).
- The Hearth Tax in Bristol Revisited – Understanding the Urban Landscape by Roger Leech. Publications: The Town House in Medieval and Early Modern Bristol (2014); Bristol Hearth Tax (British Record Society, 2018).
- Session 2: Houses in the Countryside
- The High Weald of East Sussex & the Hearth Tax Returns by David Martin. Publication: Sussex Hearth Tax (British Record Society, in preparation).
- Yorkshire East Riding Houses & the Hearth Tax by David Neave. Publication: Yorkshire East Riding Hearth Tax (British Record Society, 2016).
- Session 3: Scotland & Wales
- The Hearth Tax in the Scottish Borders – Records & Reconstruction in a Community History Project by Roger Curtis. For the Scottish Hearth Tax see Hearth tax records 1691-1695 | ScotlandsPlaces.
- Glamorgan Houses & the Hearth Tax by Elizabeth Parkinson. Publication: The Administration of the Hearth Tax; The Glamorgan Hearth Tax Assessment of 1670 (South Wales Record Society, 1994).
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
- January 2018 - Vernacular Survival: the vernacular architecture of the ‘long eighteenth century’
- January 2019 - Vernacular Landscapes
- January 2020 - Marks on Buildings
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. The spring conference is normally open to members and guests only; please see the Membership page for details of how to join the group. Bursaries are usually 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. Enquiries: please email email@example.com.
Next Spring Conference
- Following the postponement of the spring conference 2020 to September this year, and the subsequent cancellation of that event, the VAG has made the decision to postpone the spring conference in April 2021. Given the current situation the committee took this decision with regret but it was made to keep our members safe in these uncertain times. In light of this postponement an online conference with a thematic focus of East Anglia was organised for spring 2021. We hope to go ahead in the spring of 2022 with the next conference. The decision has been made for this to be held in Norfolk, the dates for which will be 5-9 April 2022. The Greater Manchester spring conference will be postponed from 2020 to 2023.
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
- 2018 - North Wales
- 2019 - East Cornwall
Introduction to Vernacular Architecture
In 2018 the VAG introduced a short weekend training conference held in Gloucestershire and this was offered again in Wiltshire in 2019, aimed at those who are new to the group and/or new to looking at vernacular buildings. These conferences were based on visits to buildings rather than on papers, and introduced people to examining buildings, covering basic vocabulary, some of the typical forms of vernacular buildings and how we go about investigating them. Following the success of these events we had hoped to again run a training weekend in 2020, this time based in Ashwell in Herfordshire in late September or early October. This will now not go ahead this year. Enquiries: please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oxford Study Schools
The Group contributes to occasional weekend or day schools held in Oxford and run by the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education. Previously run annually, the weekends are now arranged on an ad-hoc basis. They are open to the public and will be advertised here as they become available.
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
- Cruck Buildings: Origins, Distribution, Significance and Derivatives
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. A full report is available on the Members' Area.