Professor Abigail Green is leading a 4 year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, aiming to establish 'Jewish' country houses - properties that were owned, built or renewed by Jews - as a focus for research, a site of European memory and a significant aspect of European Jewish heritage and material culture.
The project, which began at the start of the academic year in October 2019 is a collaboration between the Universities of Oxford, Durham and Cardiff, the National Trust, Waddesdon Manor and Strawberry Hill House (all UK), and the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ), involving also the Centre des Monuments Nationaux (France), and individual partner properties across Europe. The project has been incubated over four years with the generous support of TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities).
As a pan-European study of 'Jewish' country houses this is a pioneering research endeavour. We aim to establish 'Jewish' country houses - properties that were owned, built or renewed by Jews - as a focus for research, a site of European memory and a significant aspect of European Jewish heritage and material culture.
The central place of the country house in our national heritage landscape speaks to its importance in the construction of nationhood, a phenomenon with parallels in other European countries. Work on Jewish elites too has operated within a nation-state framework, elaborating paradigms that emphasize national distinctiveness. This project will be the first to illuminate the cosmopolitan world of the 'Jewish aristocracy', its relationships, its architecture and its things, showing how this international network reshaped 'Jewish' and 'European' culture and society.
The core collaborative research team includes historian Dr Thomas Stammers, of Durham University's Department of History, a specialist in the history of collecting; Dr Silvia Davoli, an established expert on Jewish collectors in France, Germany and Britain, whose work at Strawberry Hill has shaped this project; and Dr Jaclyn Granick, who has done prize-winning work on international Jewish philanthropy in the age of the Great War.