The Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates (ISWE) is based at Bangor University. Founded in 2013, we operate as a vibrant partnership between the University’s College of Arts and Humanities and Archives and Special Collections Department. The following principles guide much of our work:
ISWE aspires to be a centre of excellence and a national coordinating hub, with a mission to develop and promote pioneering research focused on Welsh estates. We are committed to developing a world-class research profile, driven by projects and initiatives inspired by Wales’ incredibly rich estate heritage – including archives, landscapes, architecture, literature and a variety of visual and material culture.
Bangor University is uniquely well-placed to host ISWE. The University Archives house one of the nation’s most extensive and significant collections of family and estate papers, which provide an outstanding platform for innovative projects and we aim to build upon the university’s existing body of expertise to fully unlock the exciting research, teaching and heritage potential of Wales’ estate collections.
Prospering through partnership
ISWE is committed to building partnerships with organisations outside the university, to develop projects and initiatives which will deliver mutual and far-reaching benefits. Whether it be working with the custodians of Wales’ country houses and estates, linking up with local and national cultural heritage organisations, or forming joint projects with other universities, collaboration is at the core of everything we do.
We recognise that significant parts of our subject matter, namely the history and heritage of communities across the length and breadth of the nation, also belongs to the people of Wales. We invite you to share in our mission. ISWE is passionate about making a contribution towards the communication and enrichment of Welsh history; a history which we believe should play an integral part in Welsh society, today and into the future. As we discover, investigate and unravel the histories of Welsh estates we want to ensure that our findings and experiences are widely shared and easily accessible. ISWE will continue to develop and expand its programme of public events – workshops, exhibitions, day-schools and seminars – held in the University, and in communities across the length and breadth of Wales.
We will also work with partners to increase the heritage profile of Wales’ landed estates; promoting not only the country house powerbases dotted across our landscapes, but also to give voice to the experiences of those who lived and worked on Welsh estates across the centuries.
The bigger picture
ISWE forms part of a growing academic and public interest in the history of estates, landscapes and country houses. We enjoy close links with equivalent groups in Ireland, Scotland and the English regions, including: the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates (CSHIHE) at Maynooth University; the Centre for Scotland’s Land Futures based between the universities of Dundee and Stirling; the Yorkshire Country House Partnership (YCHP) which has links to York University; and the Thames Valley Country House Partnership (TVCHP) at Oxford University.
Working in partnership allows us to develop thematic projects which span national and regional borders, and provides us with opportunities to organise more ambitious joint events on an international scale. Most importantly though, this joined-up approach means that all of the research we produce at ISWE, can be situated and contextualised within a broader debate about the historical role of estates, allowing meaningful comparisons to be made between different local, regional and national experiences – variations which are otherwise often difficult to identify.