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This February, Strawberry Hill House welcomes a new Online Series of Talks as part of LGBTQ History month. This series explores the House, its occupants and our cultural understanding of LGBTQ during the 18th century. Speakers include: Cheryl Morgan, expert in trans history, Matthew Reeve, Associate Professor of Art History at Queen’s University and Dr Caroline Gonda, Fellow and Director of Studies, St Catharine’s College Cambridge.

Event Details

  • Tickets: Standard Adult £8 / Members Free
  • Book online

Online Talk Details

Charlotte de Beaumont, Chevalière d’Eon: Being trans in the 18th century

  • Wednesday 17th February at 7pm
  • Presented by Cheryl Morgan

By any measure, Charlotte de Beaumont, Chevalière d’Eon, had a remarkable life. According to her biography she had been a diplomat, spy and calvary officer in the service of the French Crown. In her retirement in London, she became a professional swordfighter and a feminist. She was known to intellectuals such as Rousseau and Mary Wollstonecraft, and her true gender was the subject of considerable wagers. Death has not slowed her down. She has given her name to the Beaumont Society, Britain’s oldest support organisation for trans women and cross-dressers. She has even become the star of a Japanese anime series. In this talk, Cheryl Morgan will delve into the story of this trans celebrity and compare the experience of being trans in the 18th Century to today.

Gothic Architecture and Sexuality

  • Thursday 18th February at 7pm
  • Presented by Matthew Reeve

How do we begin to understand the place of sexuality in a building like Strawberry Hill? We look in vain for imagery that might appear “queer” to us but find little of it. Many have tried to impose modern homosexual ideas (such as camp and the closet) upon the building, but these attempts have been unsuccessful for one simple but fundamental reason: the sexual world of eighteenth-century England was tremendously different from that of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

But another pitfall is offered by the very structure of art history itself: understood within the British tradition as an “objective” form of taxonomy which sequences styles and objects, the subjective engagement of the individual with the art object that s/he chooses, buys, loves, and displays is erased from taxonomic structures in which it has no place. Engaging with aesthetic and social constructions of sexuality demands engaging with a new logic, and, to some extent, with a new art history. This talk, based on the author’s recent book, will begin to explore this logic.

Anne Damer’s Place in Queer History

  • Wednesday 24th February at 7pm
  • Presented by Caroline Gonda

Anne Seymour Damer (1748- or 1749-1828) found fame in her lifetime as a sculptor, an extremely unusual occupation for a woman in the eighteenth century. Horace Walpole, her godfather, proudly displayed her sculptures as part of his celebrated collection at Strawberry Hill, and left her the house and its contents in his will. Damer also had a public reputation as a Sapphist, an eighteenth-century term for a woman who has sexual relations with other women. In this talk for LGBTQ History Month, Dr Caroline Gonda explores Anne Damer’s place in queer history, including the queer history of Strawberry Hill.