An English Country House Reborn: St. Giles House & Historic Houses Foundation

Join Royal Oak for a lecture by the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, Nicolas Ashley-Cooper, on the restoration of his family home, St. Giles house and estate in Dorset. St. Giles has been a family home to the Earls of Shaftesbury since the 13th century. Sir Anthony Ashley-Cooper, founder of the Whig party, became the first Earl of Shaftesbury in 1672, was Chancellor of the Exchequer to Charles II, and laid the first stone of St. Giles House in 1650. Sadly, the house fell into disrepair following World War II and the family relocated, selling most of the great English 18th-century furniture collection and possessions in the process. The house remained shuttered for 30 years, during which time it appeared on the English Heritage “Buildings at Risk” register and came close to collapse. After unexpectedly inheriting the title and estate, Nicholas Ashley-Cooper was determined to restore and preserve his family legacy. He embarked on a four-year award-winning restoration to bring the Grade I house back to life–using grants from the Historic Houses Foundation for the incredible dining room.
Lord Shaftesbury will speak about this remarkable project and later talk with architectural historian Jeremy Musson, trustee of the Historic Houses Foundation which supports many restoration and conservation projects such as St. Giles and the staircase restoration at Seaton Delaval, a National Trust property.
The Study at St. Giles

The Study at St. Giles ©2018 Justin Barton

Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, 12th Earl of Shaftesbury

Nicholas Edmund Anthony Ashley-Cooper graduated from the London Business School with an M.B.A.  He has worked as the CEO of a music software company, and in business development and digital strategy for a private equity firm. He is an extreme athlete, running marathons to benefit charitable organizations addressing the needs of people with disabilities—including races across the Sahara, Atacama and Gobi deserts. Lord Shaftsbury succeeded his older brother Anthony, the 11th Earl, who died of a heart attack in May 2005. Following his brother’s death, Lord Shaftesbury relocated to the UK and set out to restore St. Giles House. He is the first Shaftesbury in 50 years to live in the house, alongside his wife Dinah and three children.

Jeremy Musson, FSA Historian and HHF Trustee

Jeremy Musson is a leading commentator and authority on the English Country House. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and sits on a number of boards and trusts including the Country House Foundation. He was awarded an M Phil in Renaissance History at the Warburg Institute, University of London, in 1989 and was Architectural Editor of Country Life from 1995-2007. Before joining Country Life in 1995, Mr. Musson was an assistant regional curator for the National Trust in East Anglia, curating historic houses such as Ickworth House, and at the same time setting up the research and interpretation of new sites such as, the ex-bomb testing range and nature reserve at Orford Ness in Suffolk. He has written and edited hundreds of articles on historic country houses, from Garsington Manor to Knebworth House. Mr. Musson also presented 14 programmes on BBC 2, making up two series called The Curious House Guest, in 2005-07, and he also lectures and supervises for academic programmes with Cambridge University, London University and Buckingham University, and the Attingham Summer School. Among his books include Up and Down Stairs: The History of the English Country House Servant (2009), English Country House Interiors (2011), Robert Adam: Country House Design, Decoration & the Art of Elegance (2017), The Country House: Past, Present, Future: Great Houses of the British Isles (2018), and Romantics and Classics: Style in the English Country House (Rizzoli, 2021).


Wednesday, June 15 | 2:00 p.m. (ET)

Online via Zoom Webinar

FREE for members; $15 non-members

Register for Live

*If you are a Royal Oak member, you must be signed into the website to register as a member. Click the sign in button at the top right of the shopping cart. Add the standard ticket to the cart and the discount will apply at check out. 


Between Thursday, June 16 and Monday, July 11

Rent the recorded lecture to watch at your leisure

Free to members; $15 non-members

Register to Rent

The Zoom video link will be sent to you on Wednesday, May 25 at 12:00 p.m. noon (eastern).
Please check your spam or junk folder if you do not receive the link in your inbox. If it is not there by 1:30 p.m. (eastern), contact us right away at
The rental video will be hosted on the Zoom website and only available for streaming until Monday, July 11 at 11:59 p.m. (eastern).  The video will not be available after that date and time. It cannot be downloaded.
*If you are a Royal Oak member, you must be signed into the website to register as a member. Click the sign in button at the top right of the shopping cart. Add the standard ticket to the cart and the discount will apply at check out.