Events Lecture: Shell Houses & Grotto Decoration

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15.11.2018, 18:30 P.M.

The forthcoming lecture by Margaret (née O‘Malley) Hull and her husband Gerald on shell houses and grotto decoration will progress through the 18th century, exploring modern shell house/grotto artists, with a particular focus on Ireland.

Our two lecturers will consider the influence of Mary Delany (1700-1788) and her ideas on garden design. There will be an examination of garden features designed and decorated by Mrs Delany, including Killala, Co. Mayo (1732); Bishopstown, Co. Cork (1744); and Delville and Glasnevin, Co. Dublin (1745-50).

They will also assess the work of Catherine de la Poer, Countess of Tyrone at Curraghmore House, Co. Waterford, and Emily Lennox at Carton, Co. Kildare. Contemporary shell houses will also be discussed: Iford Manor, Wiltshire; Newby Hall, Yorkshire; Eaton Hall, Cheshire; as well as Ballymaloe, Co. Cork; and Cullenstown, Co. Wexford. Belinda Eade’s work in Ireland will also feature in the lecture.

The couple are academics who taught for 30 years in the North of Ireland, first meeting at University College of North Wales, Bangor, where Gerald was undertaking a Ph.D. After early retirement, they moved to Cornwall, followed by Bath. Gerald, a Londoner, is also a published poet, while Margaret, who was head of Theatre Studies at Fivemiletown College in Co. Tyrone, has since specialised in grottoes and shell houses of Ireland, Britain and Southern Europe. Both have travelled and lectured extensively.

The lecture will be well illustrated with colour prints and photography. Their two books (Conchinilia Journey I and Conchinilia Journey II) will be available to purchase at the talk. More details of Gerald and Margaret’s work can be found at

The lecture will be delivered at the central London office of Donald Insall Associates, located at 12 Devonshire Street, W1G 7AB. Doors will open at 6.30pm, with wine served before the lecture begins at 7pm. The lecture will last approximately 1 hour, with a further 10-20 minutes for questions. The lecture per person costs £17 members, £12 YIG members, or £20 non-members.

For further information, please contact the event organiser:

Ashleigh Murray - (07837766974)



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