Royal Oak’s speakers are engaging, knowledgeable experts with a passion for a variety of topics related to The Royal Oak Foundation’s mission.

Kathryn
Bradley-Hole

Gardens Editor at Country Life

Topic:

A Celebration of English Gardens: From the Archives of Country Life Magazine

Kathryn Bradley-Hole’s distinguished career as a horticultural writer includes 18 years as Gardens Editor of the iconic English weekly magazine, Country Life, between 2000 and 2018. She has authored six books on a variety of garden subjects, including the bestselling BBC “Gardeners’ World” Garden Lovers’ Guide to Britain and Lost Gardens of England from the Archives of Country Life. Her most recent book, English Gardens from the Archives of Country Life Magazine, was just published by Rizzoli last October. Her own gardening interests have an organic approach, to support a diversity of wildlife.

A Celebration of English Gardens From the Archives of Country Life Magazine

“That the English are a nation of gardeners as well as weather-watchers is well known; the two national obsessions are as intertwined as the honey-suckle and the hedgerow,” writes Country Life Garden Editor Kathryn Bradley-Hole. Her Royal Oak lecture, drawn from her new book, celebrates English gardens featured in Country Life, a pictorial weekly journal that launched in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

From picturesque cottage gardens to grand formal gardens; from kitchen gardens to water gardens; and from medieval monastery gardens to cutting-edge 21st century gardens, Kathryn will take a fresh look at horticultural treasures from across England. She will discuss those created by designers such as Capability Brown, Gertrude Jekyll, Rosemary Verey, Piet Oudolf and Arne Maynard among others.

She will illustrate world famous gardens—Waddesdon Manor (NT), Hidcote (NT), and Great Dixter—alongside new and lesser-known places such as Woolbeding (NT), Warnell Hall, Cumbria, and Hauser & Wirth in Bruton. Using stunning photography from the archives of Country Life, Kathryn will distill the essence of what makes the British garden style so popular and celebrate English garden-making in all its astonishing variety, wit and inspiration.

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The Mosaic Parterre at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire ©National Trust Images Andrew Butler

The Mosaic Parterre at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire ©National Trust Images Andrew Butler

Curt DiCamillo

Historian and Author

Topics:

London in the 20th Century: The Glitter & Glamour at the Heart of the Empire

The Scottish Architects Who Changed the World

Greed, Lust, and Murder: King Henry VIII, the Tudor Court, and How It Changed England Forever

Curt DiCamillo is an architectural historian and authority on the British country house. He has taught classes in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the School of the MFA. Mr. DiCamillo leads tours on the architectural and artistic heritage of Britain. Since 1999 he has maintained an award-winning website, The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses (TheDiCamillo.com), which seeks to document every country house, standing or demolished. In recognition of his work, he has been presented to the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and The Prince of Wales.

He is a member of The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and is an alumnus of the Royal Collection Studies program and The Attingham Summer School. He is currently Curator for Special Collections at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. From 2004 to 2012 he served as Executive Director of The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA (today he serves as Executive Director Emeritus). Previously, he worked for 13 years for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

London in the 20th Century: The Glitter & Glamour at the Heart of the Empire

Dr. Johnson’s famous 18th century quote, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford,” could still be applied to 20th century London. By the 1920s the magnificent metropolis that began as the Roman provincial town of Londonium was the most dynamic city on the planet and the capital of the largest empire the world had ever seen. From the most extraordinary department stores on the globe—Harrods and Selfridge’s—to an unsurpassed theater scene, from Mary Poppins and the Bloomsbury Group to George Orwell, London was bubbling over with dynamic writers, the greatest museums on the planet, and never-ending royal pomp and scandal. But the century also saw the destruction of some of the most beautiful townhouses ever built, as aristocratic fortunes waned and London property values soared. Historian Curt DiCamillo weaves together these themes and more in this architecturally-focused lecture about one of planet’s most astonishing cities during the most turbulent century in world history.

The Scottish Architects Who Changed the World

The Adam brothers reigned supreme in Britain during the last half of the 18th century as the ultimate arbiters of taste and style. Sons of prominent Scottish architect William Adam, Sr., the brothers transformed the direction of architecture and design across the western world. There was Robert, the most famous and talented of the architect brothers; James, an architect, furniture designer and scholar; William Jr., a landscape designer; and John, the business manager of the brothers’ architectural firm. Together they designed everything from country houses and London townhouses; to theaters, bridges, and government buildings.

Robert Adam introduced a new style from his travels on the Continent studying the ruins of the ancient world under the tutelage of Giovanni Battista Piranesi.Upon his return to England, Robert rejected the Palladian style of Lord Burlington as “disgustful,” and set about creating a style of architecture and decoration based on his travels. The groundbreaking Adam style was so influential that it found its way to remote places like Russia, where Adams style palaces were built for Catherine the Great and members of the nobility.

The Adams brothers were the first designers to fully integrate architectural elements into interior design. They designed curved walls, domed rooms, and elaborate Neoclassical plasterwork that meshed perfectly with a room’s fireplaces, furniture, fixtures, carpets, and textiles, resulting in a harmonious whole. These interiors featured new color schemes, such as sky blue, intense pink, soft lilac, pea green, and the red-brown terracotta color of Etruscan vases.

The brothers also worked with forward-thinking partners such as Josiah Wedgwood, Thomas Chippendale, and Matthew Boulton—who provided the icing on the Adam-style Neoclassical cake! The sublime beauty of the Adam Style in all its permutations will come to life in this lecture by Curt DiCamillo, whose heart beats with a Neoclassical rhythm.

Greed, Lust, and Murder: King Henry VIII, the Tudor Court, and How It Changed England Forever

The Tudor dynasty, one of the most dramatic and troubled of all English royal families, was founded by Henry VII, who usurped the throne in 1485. Henry’s son, the infamous Henry VIII, changed England forever when his desire for a divorce led him to create the Church of England. From his brutal and greedy seizure of the monasteries, to his gargantuan appetites for food and women, Henry didn’t believe anything should be denied him. Ironically, Henry’s grotesque behavior placed England on the course toward the Protestant enlightenment, thus laying the groundwork for today’s United Kingdom. Henry’s daughters, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I, were the first women to sit on the English throne. Though Mary’s reign was an unmitigated disaster (her attempt to bring England back to the Roman Church earned her the sobriquet “Blood Mary” because of the almost 300 Protestants she had burned at the stake), Elizabeth stands as one of the greatest of all European monarchs. This lecture will provide a broad sweep of all five Tudor monarchs, encompassing their loves, personalities, art, architecture, and literature, all of which has come down to us today in many and surprising ways. In spite of their extreme shortcomings, there wouldn’t be an England today without the Tudors.

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Harrods, London

The chimneypiece in the Tapestry Room at Osterley Park, Middlesex ©National Trust Images Bill Batten

The chimneypiece in the Tapestry Room at Osterley Park, Middlesex ©National Trust Images Bill Batten

Portrait of Edward VI of England

Portrait of Edward VI of England

Tanya Kirk

Tanya Kirk

Lead Curator, Printed Heritage Collections 1601-1900, the British Library

Topic:

The Pleasures of the Age:
Entertainment in Georgian England

Tanya Kirk, Lead Curator, Printed Heritage Collections 1601-1900, has worked at the British Library for twelve years, currently as the leading expert on 300 years of the Library’s printed collections. She has curated five major exhibitions on topics including Gothic fiction, Shakespeare in performance, the British landscape in literature and most recently Harry Potter: A History of Magic, which toured to the New-York Historical Society in 2018. She has edited two themed collections of ghost stories, The Haunted Library (2016) and Spirits of the Season (2018).

Tanya Kirk

CANCELLED

The Pleasures of the Age: Entertainment in Georgian England

For over a hundred years (1714-1830), the Georgian era in Britain was a time of transformation—cities grew, trade expanded and the industrial revolution was born. The Georgian period saw Britain establish itself as an international power at the center of an expanding empire, and it was also a period of frivolity with massive growth in the entertainment industry. Theatrical entertainment already existed, but the Georgians invented the circus and the pantomime.

For the first time, people could witness the wonders of human flight in a hot air balloon, and even experience it for themselves. Pleasure gardens, such as at Vauxhall, offered culture, spectacle, refreshment, and the opportunity to show off the latest fashions: although genteel on the surface, these public spaces also featured secluded grottoes where licentious behaviour flourished. The growth of celebrity culture and consumerism hinted at today’s society, but some amusements of the era can also seem bizarre to modern eyes.

Tanya Kirk will take you through the whirlwind of Georgian society and entertainments, using the wealth of highly visual material the British Library holds on the subject, from playbills and posters to satirical engravings and even a piece of silk from one of the first ever balloon flights.

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An exact representation of Mr. Lunardi’s new balloon as it ascended with himself 13 May 1785. The balloon was decorated with a Union Jack, in which manner he ‘wished to express his respects and devotion to everything which the word British stands for’.

Leslie Klingner

Curator of Interpretation, Biltmore House

Topic:

High Style at Sea: Interiors, Fashion, and the Transatlantic Crossing

Leslie Klingner is a design historian specializing in decorative art, fashion and material culture of the 19th and 20th centuries. Leslie has served as a Lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum (2001-2009) and as Senior Educator and Academic Programs Coordinator for the Brooklyn Museum. In 2006, Leslie became the Curator of Interpretation for Biltmore, the family home of the late George W. Vanderbilt. In this role, she shares in the curation and preservation of America’s largest home and creates historical tours, products, programming and exhibitions across the estate. Her recent co-curated exhibitions include A Vanderbilt House Party: The Gilded Age; Glamour on Board: Fashion from Titanic the MovieFashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in FilmDressing Downton: Changing Fashions for Changing Times; and The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad.

High Style at Sea: Interiors, Fashion, and the Transatlantic Crossing

During the first half of the 20th century, European shipbuilders competed to create showpiece “ships of state” intended to appeal to well-heeled American travelers seeking adventure and sophistication. Interiors were outfitted by well-known designers—such as Charles-Frédéric Mewes and his partner Arthur Davis, famed for their work on the Hôtel Ritz in Paris and in London. Transatlantic passenger lines attracted customers through the allure of these extravagant spaces, which included opulent first class offerings such as a smoking room, writing room, lounge, grand staircase, colossal ballrooms, modern pools and gymnasiums, and a veranda café or other verdant theatrical setting evoking the greenery of a winter garden. Design historian Leslie Klingner will give us a look into traveling at the height of luxury during this golden age of ocean liners. Drawing from rarely-seen imagery including the Titanic’s tiled Turkish Baths, the Art Deco extravagance of the SS Normandie, and Cunard’s RMS Queen Elizabeth and RMS Queen Mary, Leslie will share visuals of a nearly-lost world of furnishings and interiors that rivaled the world’s finest hotels and restaurants. She will share first-hand accounts of the fashionable passengers aboard those transatlantic “Floating Palaces,” who changed their dress several times a day, and sported specialized accessories for the voyage. She will also trace the transition of decorative styles across the Atlantic, explaining the influence of these great ships on fashion, jewelry, interior design and architecture, both on land and at sea.

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A stack of suitcases at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Images Chris Lacey

A stack of suitcases at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire. ©National Trust Images Chris Lacey

Carol Ann Lloyd

Noted Speaker

Topic:

Ciphers, Secrets, and Spies in the Elizabethan Age

Carol Ann Lloyd is a popular speaker who shares the stories of Shakespeare and English history. She is the former Manager of Visitor Education at Folger Shakespeare Library, where she gave workshops and tours about Shakespeare and Early Modern England. Carol Ann has presented programs at the Smithsonian, Folger Shakespeare Library, Agecroft Hall, and TEDx, among other venues. Ms. Lloyd is a member of the National Speakers Association.

Ciphers, Secrets, and Spies in the Elizabethan Age

The Elizabethan Era (1558-1603) is often depicted as the “Golden Age” in England’s history—a period of great exploration and military victories in which Queen Elizabeth I is represented in sumptuous clothing and jewels. But the reality, which included religious conflicts that tore families apart; political challenges to Elizabeth’s authority; high levels of poverty and crime; and vulnerability to foreign invasion, was far grimmer.

The Queen was considered a Protestant heretic by the rulers of Europe and numerous plots were hatched to dethrone her and replace her with Catholic Mary Queen of Scots. Elizabeth’s closest courtiers tried to protect her. William Cecil (later Lord Burghley) was the first to oversee the gathering of intelligence and was aided by Francis Walsingham, another of Elizabeth’s most loyal ministers known as the “Spymaster.”

Walsingham’s network of clandestine agents moved throughout England and Europe using their contacts and skills in navigating court politics to safeguard their Queen. They unearthed a series of threats, including one led by an invasion of priests who had been trained abroad and were sent to prepare England for a Catholic rebellion.

The priests scattered throughout the country and were hidden in “priest-holes” by Catholic families in places such as Baddesley Clinton and Coughton Court in Warwickshire. Other houses involved in this period of intrigue include Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, and Scotney Castle in Kent—all National Trust houses.

Carol Ann Lloyd will describe this tumultuous time with its secret plots, intercepted and decoded messages, and assassination attempts. She will explore dark corners of Elizabethan English history and reveal how the ability to control information became the most potent tool of the realm.

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William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, after Marcus Geeraerts, the younger. ©National Trust Images

William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, after Marcus Geeraerts, the younger. ©National Trust Images

Carl Raymond

Food Historian, Writer and Lecturer

Topic:

Dining in the Gilded Age:  Edith Wharton and America’s Passion for European

Carl Raymond is a food historian, writer and museum educator. He has worked at the Merchant’s House Museum as well as King Manor Museum in education and programming. Carl trained at French Culinary Institute as well as the Institute for Culinary Education and holds a diploma in Culinary Arts.

He has taught recreational cooking classes throughout New York City and has lectured on food history for the Merchant’s House Museum, the National Arts Club, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, St. George’s Society, Historic Royal Palaces and the English Speaking Union. He was a contributing writer on SAVORING GOTHAM: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City (Oxford University Press) and is at work on his own book, a culinary history of the Gilded Age.

Dining in the Gilded Age: Edith Wharton and America’s Passion for European

During America’s Gilded Age, everything was opulent and heavily decorated, and above all, meant to impress. From the early 1870s to the beginning of World War I, rich and ambitious families looked to England and France to define their sense of culture and taste. Sumptuous design also influenced the dinner tables of the newly wealthy. While contemporary novelist Edith Wharton was not a food writer, she describes food and table settings, along with fashion and architecture, to highlight significant traits about her fictional characters.

In this illustrated talk, food historian Carl Raymond will delve into the rich culinary history of Gilded Age New York using examples from Wharton’s life and writings, as well as from historical descriptions and menus. From grand dining in hotels such as, the Astor House and the Fifth Avenue Hotel, to the legendary restaurants Delmonico’s and Sherry’s, his lecture will cover the chefs and stories, the dishes and the drama.

He will provide a glimpse of Mrs. Astor’s famous ballroom—with opera suppers for the famous 400—and explore, using rarely seen archival material, what was served at Stanford White and J.P. Morgan’s grand salons. He will capture the Gilded Age’s obsession with the most extravagant food money could buy. From the meals served at lavish tables, to those given to the servants who performed pivotal roles at the grandest social events, Carl will describe the essence and elegance of a vanished era.

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The reception held at Delmonico's for prince Arthur of Great Britain, New York 1st February 1870

The reception held at Delmonico’s for prince Arthur of Great Britain, New York 1st February 1870

Adrian Tinniswood, OBE

British Historian & Author

Topic:

Leisure, Pleasure and the Country House Weekend

Adrian Tinniswood is a Senior Research Fellow in History at the University of Buckingham. He is the author of 15 books on architectural and social history including the New York Times bestseller The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House Between the Wars and Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal Household. His most recent book, and the one upon which his lecture is based, is The House Party: A Short History of Leisure, Pleasure and the Country House Weekend. Tinniswood was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to heritage.

Leisure, Pleasure and the Country House Weekend

Croquet, parlour games, cocktails followed by dinner—and perhaps “bed-hopping” at midnight. You are invited to journey through the glorious golden age of the country house party!

Historian Adrian Tinniswood will trace the evolution of this quintessentially British pastime and describe both debauched royal tours and the flamboyant excess of the Bright Young Things. He will explain how the Saturday-to-Monday, or Friday-to-Sunday country party (never called ‘weekends’), occupies a special place in British history that is reflected in fiction and film, such as Brideshead Revisited and Downton Abbey. His lecture will feature cameos by a Jazz Age industrialist, a bibulous earl, as well as an off-duty politician—guests who reflected the changes in social conventions which mixed classes in an atmosphere of contrived informality.

Whether in moated medieval manor houses or ornate Palladian villas, Tinniswood will give vivid insight and gossip into weekending etiquette, while revealing the hidden lives of celebrity guests—including Nancy Astor and Winston Churchill—who stayed in some of the National Trust’s most exciting country houses. The result is a deliciously entertaining, star-studded, yet surprisingly moving portrait of a time of escapism by a generation haunted by World War I, and a uniquely fast-living period of British history.

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Rex Whistler, Ave Silvae Dornii, 1928, Dorneywood, Buckinghamshire. ©National Trust Images John Hammond

Rex Whistler, Ave Silvae Dornii, 1928, Dorneywood, Buckinghamshire. ©National Trust Images John Hammond