WMF/PMC/YCBA Research Scholarship

Each year, the World Monuments Fund (WMF), the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (PMC), and the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) offer a summer graduate student research scholarship that focuses on a specific WMF site. Applicants for this year’s opportunity may select one of two sites (one scholarship only will be offered) and should state which site they wish to be considered for, describing their relevant qualifications and research interests.

Eligibility

The WMF/PMC/YCBA scholarship, available through the Center, is open to graduate students in all disciplines who are affiliated with Yale University. The number of scholarships offered each year is limited to one.

Apply

Applications for the 2017 summer scholarship position are now closed. Project and submission information for the summer 2018 scholarship will be posted in early 2018. Please address questions about this opportunity to Research (ycba.research@yale.edu | +1 203 432 2824).

Current Projects

Projects change annually. The following descriptions outline the current projects being offered.

The North Hall & East Staircase, Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, UK

Stowe House in Buckinghamshire, England, is essentially a Georgian ducal palace. Its most recent use is as a well-known school, but it is of enormous historical and architectural significance and, as such, is a major public resource. Stowe House was included on the 2002 World Monuments Watch, whereupon it received funding for extensive conservation. The Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage supported the restoration of the principal rooms at Stowe House, including the central Marble Saloon and the library. The repair of decorative treatments in the Music Room, the Egyptian Hall, the North Hall, the Dining Room, and the East Corridor and Staircase, all benefited from the WMF’s attention. The Paul Mellon Estate supported the conservation of the State Music Room, one of the finest late eighteenth-century spaces in Britain, as well as a skills training program that took place at the site. In 2013, two eighteenth-century lead lions returned to their original location at the southern entrance to the house. The return of the lions and the installation of some thirty spun copper urns marked the completion of exterior restoration work at Stowe. In 2015, a visitor welcome area and interpretation center opened to the public. Interior restoration work is scheduled for completion in 2017.

The final two principal rooms that WMF is involved in are the North Hall and the East Stair and Corridor. Work has started in both locations, with restoration of the William Kent ceiling in the North Hall completed in 2015 and Fame & Victory, the magnificent ceiling painting by Francesco Sleter in the East Hall stairway, restored during summer 2016. A vital piece of research is needed to complete the restoration of these two important spaces within Stowe’s piano nobile. For the North Hall, an analysis of the architectural and decorative treatment of the chamber is required so that it can faithfully be restored to the period of Queen Victoria’s visit to Stowe in 1845. For the East Stair and Corridor, the brief is more open, as we seek to understand the extent and survival of Sleter’s scheme in the eighteenth century and to determine what period, periods, or themes will drive the final restoration.

Strata Florida Abbey, Wales, UK

Strata Florida, in the mid-Wales countryside, is a former Cistercian monastery. Known to date from the twelfth century but probably deliberately constructed on an ancient site of regional Iron Age and Celtic importance, the monastery has enormous significance as a place of Welsh iraeth and cultural identity. It is still known as the “Westminster Abbey of Wales” where eleven early princes of Wales, including Prince Gruffydd ap Rhys II, and the poet Dafydd ap Gwilym, widely regarded as one of the great poets of Europe in the Middle Ages, are buried. The most important primary historical source for early Welsh history, the Brut y Tywysogion, was compiled at Strata Florida, which built a reputation as a center of medieval learning, poetry, and literature. The monastery comprised an inner precinct of church, cloisters, chapter house, dormitory and refectory, and an enormous outer precinct extending over one hundred twenty acres. Beyond this, the estate consisted of lands and granges spread extensively across the Cambrian Mountains, reflecting its power over the landscape of mid-Wales and the ancient kingdom of Deheubarth. The monastery was dissolved in 1539 under orders of Henry VIII. The former monastic buildings were subsequently converted to a gentry house and later adapted as a farm. More recently the church and main cloistral range are managed by Cadw, the Welsh state heritage service, with other parts of the complex in private hands. The ruins are a scheduled ancient monument, and the grade II* rating of its successor gentry house underlines this national significance.

In 2016, WMF and WMFB were asked to support the Strata Florida Trust in the purchase of the former gentry house and farm buildings, themselves adapted from the medieval monastic buildings, and their subsequent conversion into a visitor center and cultural space. Funds are now guaranteed for the purchase of the gentry house and farm buildings, and there is a strong, credible plan to bring the whole site to life. Appropriate adaptive reuse of the former monastic buildings to create educational and interpretative space, alongside holiday accommodation, will ensure that Strata Florida is revived as a special center for Welsh culture and has a sustainable future. Funds are also in place for building conversion, interpretation, and visitor engagement.

Strata Florida has been the focus of increasing research over the past twenty years as the academic and local communities begin to understand the widening importance of this site to Welsh cultural heritage. Much of this research has been related to the archeological potential of the site. Now there is a need for research into the architectural history of the monastic complex and its later reuse as a gentry house and a farmhouse.