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Octavia Hill Lecture

Professor Mary Beard stood behind a podium giving a talk
Professor Mary Beard at the Octavia Hill Lecture in 2024 at The Royal Society, London | © National Trust Images/ Megan Taylor

The annual Octavia Hill Lecture is an opportunity for respected voices and commentators to lead us in reflecting on nature, beauty and history. This year’s lecture was with guest speaker Professor Mary Beard. After the lecture, Professor Beard held a conversation with Gus Casely-Hayford.

What are the Octavia Hill Lectures?

Octavia Hill Lectures were created to allow time and space to reflect on our impact as a charity in the modern day.

They're named after one of our three co-founders and allow us to explore our shared past and place in the world today. These lectures are an opportunity to connect with leading thinkers and public audiences through meaningful discussions.

A respected voice or commentator delivers the lecture, reflecting on nature, beauty and history through the lens of the places and objects in our care. We invite guest speakers to propose topics that they feel are relevant to their experience and perspective.

Watch the 2024 lecture

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Who owns the past? By Professor Mary Beard

Watch the Octavia Hill Lecture in collaboration with Times Radio. Join guest speaker Professor Mary Beard (classicist, historian, author and broadcaster) as she examines what the past is for, how we can learn from and challenge it, and how we can bring it alive. Throughout her lecture, Professor Beard considers the issues of authenticity and ownership.

Trust houses should be exciting, even dangerous, places where we can all confront not just the past, but also ourselves.

A quote by Professor Mary Beard Historian and classicist

In conversation with Gus Casley-Hayford

After the lecture, Professor Beard was in conversation with Gus Casley-Hayford, Director of V&A East. Following their talk, they opened the floor to the audience who had the opportunity to ask questions. Details on how to watch Professor Beard and Gus Casley-Hayford's conversation will be available soon.

Further reading

Landscape mural of Italian seaport showing a harbour scene in the dining room by Rex Whistler at Plas Newydd House & Gardens, Anglesey

Art and collections

We care for one of the world's largest and most significant collections of art and heritage objects. Explore the highlights, our latest major exhibitions, curatorial research and more.

Our partners

Times Radio

We’re working in collaboration with Times Radio to bring history to everyone. Times Radio provides intelligent and thought-provoking live coverage of news, politics and culture. Together, we’ll debate and explore the shared past and our place in the world today.

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