What's On

The John Cornforth Memorial Lecture Series 2022 - London

Date and time:

Tuesday 8th February


Lecture: 7pm - 8pm GMT

We are delighted to announce the first lecture of 2022 which will take place live at Christie’s in London and will also be streamed online via Zoom.

Rosie Grimston has devoted herself to Gorhambury, a fine 18th century Palladian villa just outside St Albans, for the past ten years. The house has been under a major renovation and restoration. Rosie has lived in the house with husband Jamie and three children for the duration of the works, moving within to accommodate the project. This spring they hope to move back into the original block finished by Sir Robert Taylor in 1784. Russian works of art are Rosie's specialty, she headed up the department at Sotheby's and continued to value works freelance after she left in 2009. Her years working at Sotheby's gave her valuable experience at managing art systems, crucial when planning the storage and reinstatement of the art collection. 

The John Cornforth Memorial Lectures tell the story of the country house and its estate, as seen through the eyes of the private owner. Proudly presented in association with Christie’s, the lecture series celebrates architectural historian John Cornforth’s invaluable contribution to architectural history. This year, the proceeds of the lectures will be donated to the National Trust.

John Cornforth (1937-2004) was one of the best known architectural historians of his day and a leading authority on the English country house. Author of numerous books and more than 800 articles in Country Life, where for many years he was Architectural Editor, he shared his time and knowledge with country house owners and the National Trust as well as encouraging and mentoring young curators and architectural historians.

Online lecture: 


 Live Lecture: 


Water Voles to Return to the Ver

Endangered water voles will be reintroduced to the River Ver in spring 2021 after a 30-year absence.

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust in collaboration with the Ver Valley Society and local river owners have announced plans to reintroduce water voles to the Ver Valley north of St Albans. Around 150 water voles will be reintroduced to this stretch of the Ver as part of an ambitious programme to expand the territory of the animals in Hertfordshire. The habitat in that stretch of river provides the perfect conditions for water voles – dense bankside vegetation and clean water –– but sadly water voles were last seen here in 1987.

Water voles, typically found in healthy chalk rivers, are under serious threat from habitat loss – the majority of England’s rivers are polluted and of poor ecological quality – and predation by non-native American mink. Since the 1950s, water vole populations have decreased by over 90%. 

Tim Hill, Conservation Manager at the Trust, says: “This is a major breakthrough for wildlife in the Ver Valley. Water voles are Britain’s fastest-declining mammal and need our help now – but it’s not too late to bring them back from the brink, as this and other projects in the area prove.”

The project is funded by the Debs Foundation, a charitable trust that supports animal welfare and wildlife charities. David Gittleson from the Debs Foundation says: “We are delighted to award a grant to Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust for a major programme to reintroduce the water vole to the River Ver. We believe it is important to help save this endangered animal and we are very impressed with the planning done for the scheme. We very much look forward to working with the Trust and the Ver Valley Society who have been so supportive.”

The Trust is working with landowners including Gorhambury Estate as well as Ver Valley Society who are keen to see water voles in the river again. John Pritchard, Chairman of the Ver Valley Society says: “Our Society has been working hard for years to enhance the environment through practical works and lobbying for restoration of the Ver. Bringing back water voles to the Ver Valley is recognition of the quality of the habitat and capitalises on the prospect of improved flows.”

In 2015, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust introduced water voles to Thorley Wash Nature Reserve near Bishop’s Stortford. Today, the animals are thriving there and have since moved up and down the River Stort, expanding their territories and populations substantially.

You can find more information and updates at hertswildlifetrust.org.uk/verwatervoles.

Gorhambury House

For directions to Gorhambury House, please click here