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
- 2015 - Cumbria
Future spring conferences include:
- 2016 - Lincolnshire (29 March to 2 April 2016)
- 2017 - Hertfordshire (11 to 15 April 2017)
- 2018 - North Wales (3 to 8 April 2018)
- 2019 - Cornwall
Spring Conference 2016
The 2016 Spring Conference will be held in Lincolnshire and has been organised by the Building Recording Team of the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. Registration starts at 2pm on Tuesday 29 March and at 2.30pm Prof David Stocker will lead a tour of the lower city. Wednesday 30 March will focus on stone, and includes visits to Clipsham Quarry, Helpston Quarry and Stamford; after dinner there will be the launch of Steep, Strait and High by Christopher Johnson and Stanley Jones. On Thursday 31 March we will explore Lincoln's uphill timber-framed buildings, as well as Hackthorn Estate and village. Friday 1 April will be a mud-and-stud day and will include visits to Thimbleby and Mareham le Fen, with an evening talk about Lincolnshire folk traditions and songs by Tom Lane and his group. Evening speakers will include Dr Steve Parry (British Geological Survey) and Alastair MacIntosh (Lincoln City Archaeologist). Accommodation is at The Lincoln Hotel, Lincoln.
Details and booking form for the next spring conference were emailed or posted to members in late December 2015, slightly sooner than usual due to the early booking deadline. A copy is also available on the Members' Area of this website. Closing date for bookings: 1 February 2016. The conference is open to VAG members and guests only: if you'd like to join the group, please see the Membership page.
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 are available here. Closing date for applications: 22 January 2016.
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
- January 2015 - Farmsteads in Focus
Winter Conference 2016
The latest winter conference was held at the University of Leicester on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 January 2016. The conference, Vernacular Boundaries, looked at the movement of craftsmen, ideas and craft traditions across borders and questioned the assumption that traditional buildings were always rooted in their locality. Speakers from the British Isles and the USA focused on the movement of craftsmen across the Channel and the Atlantic, and examined how they and their ideas fared; on questions of patronage and the extent to which ideas moved between social groups; on the relationship of craft traditions in town and country and in house and church; and changes of boundaries within the house itself.
The next winter conference will take place in January 2017.
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 appear 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
- Vernacular Revivals
Oxford Weekend School 2016
The next weekend school, Recording Town Buildings, will take place from Friday 30 September to Sunday 2 October 2016. Full details can be found 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 are arranging 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).