Telling Her Story’ will bring together heritage professionals and academics to explore the diverse roles and experiences of women at historic sites. Whether in country houses or castles, women have played a pivotal role in shaping the built environment and in influencing the course of history. Yet, more often than not, their voices are marginalised or missing from the historical record and from interpretation at heritage sites. This conference seeks to uncover the many and varied experiences of women at historic properties in the care of English Heritage and other heritage organisations. It aims to move beyond stock biographies of famous and extraordinary women to discover the many diverse stories of women from all walks of life, to offer new perspectives on better-known individuals and to critique narratives and interpretations which continue to be constructed principally around the experiences of men.
What extraordinary things did ordinary women do? Which kinds of buildings or landscapes are women not commonly associated with and why? How can we place women’s stories connected to specific properties in the wider context of women’s history? What was distinctive about the experience of women – across different social classes – at these sites? How does the inclusion of women change the way in which we understand the histories of particular sites? By thinking about some of these questions, the conference will also explore the relationship between women’s history, heritage and the built environment and will highlight the potential of women’s history to enrich our understanding of the heritage environment.