The Group's conferences are where members meet to study buildings and discuss their findings. Conferences are open to all members.
In the spring we 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.
Recent spring conference venues:
- 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
Future spring conferences include:
- 2015 - Cumbria (7-11 July 2015)
- 2016 - Lincolnshire (29 March - 2 April 2016)
- 2017 - Hertfordshire
- 2018 - North Wales
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. Details on how to apply for a bursary for the next Spring Conference will be published here in due course.
The winter conference takes a theme of current interest and explores it in depth through papers given by experts in the field.
Recent winter conference themes include:
- 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
Winter Conference 2015
The next winter conference will be held in association with the Historic Farm Buildings Group at the University of Leicester on 3-4 January 2015 on the theme Farmsteads in Focus. This weekend will place the farmhouse at the heart of the working farmstead and landscape: we'll be looking at the way in which economic changes and technical innovation affected the appearance, construction and planning of both the house and the farm buildings, with emphasis on the centuries before the classic age of agricultural improvement. One theme of the weekend will be to explore how 'walking the parish' – observing the surface geology, field, settlement and communication patterns – can provide invaluable leads when planning area surveys of vernacular buildings.
Full details and booking forms are being sent out to members during the week beginning 10 November 2014 (by email to those who have agreed to this form of communication, and by post to everyone else). Members can also download the leaflet and booking form by logging in to the Members' Area.
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. Details on how to apply for a bursary for the next Winter Conference will be published here in due course.
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 and topics have included:
- 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
Oxford Weekend School 2015
The next weekend school will take place on Friday 25 to Sunday 27 September 2015 on the topic Vernacular Revivals. Architects have long sought inspiration from traditional buildings. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, vernacular revival idioms became fashionable and had a lasting impact on the identity of town and country, both here and abroad. But the motives, conscious and unconscious, were (and still are) complex and ambiguous. This weekend explores some of the hidden forces behind the use of the vernacular, which could be used to dominate or assimilate, to reassure or provoke. Booking is not yet open but a draft copy of the programme and booking form may be viewed here, and further information will be published when available on the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education website.
Tip: if all the residential places on 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
We hope to arrange a VAG trip to the Maine region of France in June 2016.
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 - and also see something of the scenery and the country. These images of Norwegian houses and scenery were sketched by VAG member Malcolm Birdsall some twenty-five years ago (copyright reserved).