There are few things more emblematic of England's heritage than the great country houses which grace our landscape. But such properties are t to be viewed simply as objects of architectural and curatorial or artistic interest. They are also expressions of wealth, power and privilege and, as new questions are being asked of England's historic role in the Atlantic world, and in particular about slavery, new connections are being unearthed between the nation's great houses and its colonial past. In 2007 English Heritage commissioned initial research into links with transatlantic slavery or its abolition amongst families who owned properties w in its care. This was part of the commitment by English Heritage to commemorate the bicentenary of the abolition of the British transatlantic slave trade with work that would make a real difference to our understanding of the historic environment in the longer term. The research findings and those of other scholars and heritage practitioners were presented at the 'Slavery and the British Country House' conference which brought together academics, heritage professionals, country house owners and community researchers from across Britain to explore how country houses might be reconsidered in the light of their slavery linkages and how such links have been and might be presented to visitors. Since then the conference papers have been updated and reworked into a cutting edge volume which represents the most current and comprehensive consideration of slavery and the British country house as yet undertaken. English Heritage is proud to be publishing work on which historians, educators and heritage professionals can all build to develop new understandings of this challenging and important part of our national story.
Madge Dresser is Associate Professor of History at the University of the West of England in Bristol. She has published extensively on Atlantic slavery and its impact on British culture and has acted as historical advisor to museums, academic research projects and public history websites on this subject. Andrew Hann is Properties Historians' Team Leader at English Heritage with particular responsibility for researching and writing about the country houses in their care. Before joining English Heritage in 2007 he worked for a number of years as an academic. His research interests centre on the history of retail, consumption and material culture.