Aston Webb Building

The Centre for Midlands History and Cultures is running a one-day conference at Winterbourne House and Gardens on Saturday, 20 July 2024.

Keynote speaker:

Dr Clare Hickman (Reader in Environmental and Medical History Newcastle University)
Multifareous and Diverse Forms: sensing the past in landscape history


Call for papers

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the conference Landscape and Green Spaces: Garden History in the West Midlands held at the University of Birmingham. The Conference and resulting edited collection demonstrated how the study of green spaces can reveal more about both local and national themes in the history of the Midlands. At the same time it aimed to stimulate further movement away from what had been acknowledged as garden history’s traditionally narrow focus on the ‘great men’ designers and a few key sites.

But much has changed in the decade since 2014. The study of garden history has continued to take new directions and there is plenty to celebrate, to excite and to stimulate in the new research paths that have emerged over the last ten years. There has been a retreat from a concentration on the aesthetics of design towards seeing gardens and the activity of gardening within wider social, economic, political, and cultural contexts. Gardens are now better understood as part of the shaping of urban as well as rural landscapes influenced by scientific, technological, industrial, medical, intellectual and climate developments and their history is benefitting from the insights of scholars drawn from a wide range of disciplines.

This conference seeks to bring together academics, especially postgraduates and early career researchers, independent scholars, and heritage, museum and archive professionals who are researching any aspect of the history of gardens and green spaces in the Midlands to raise new questions and to explore new directions.

Topics for suggested papers might include, but are by no means limited to:

  • The contribution of women to landscape design, horticulture and plant collecting.
  • The role of marginalised people, communities and groups in shaping the landscape.
  • Global garden history; how Midlands’ gardens and gardeners were shaped by (and shaped) international developments, colonialism, and empire.
  • Climate change, environmental degradation, and its historical context.
  • Representation of gardens and green spaces in art, literature and other cultural activities.
  • The relationship between gardens, gardening and print.
  • The emotional and experiential dimensions of gardens and green space.
  • Material culture of designed landscapes.
  • The restoration and recovery of historic landscapes.

Papers should be 20 minutes long and cover research based on the Centre’s geographic reach which is the counties of Bedfordshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Please submit a title, short biography (100 words) and abstract (200-300 words) to by 30 April 2024.