Royal Holloway student, Hannah McCann, who is studying an MA in Public History, has been awarded the first ever Bamber Gascoigne Bursary through a new partnership with the University and West Horsley Place.
West Horsley Place Trust, a charity created by Bamber and Christina Gascoigne to rescue the Grade I listed West Horsley Place and its ancient estate, announced the introduction of the new bursary initiative this week, with Hannah starting her placement later this month.
The bursary was launched to enhance public understanding about the history and heritage of West Horsley Place and will be awarded annually to a student studying MA Public History at Royal Holloway.
The award includes a funded placement at West Horsley Place, where the recipient will have access to the archive and associated primary sources. Findings will be shared through a series of articles published on the estate’s website.
Dr Matthew Smith, Director of MA Public History, School of Humanities at Royal Holloway said: “We are delighted to be working with the team at West Horsley Place to launch this exciting new placement for our students.
“This will provide them with a wonderful opportunity to put into practice many of the skills they will have been developing on our course and to gain valuable experience as they launch their careers as public historians. We look forward to seeing what stories they discover and share with visitors.
“I would also like to add our thanks to the founders of West Horsley Place Trust for their generosity in providing this bursary.”
Hannah McCann added: “I can't wait to get started at West Horsley Place.
“To be able to uncover the history of the site, especially during the Second World War, will be incredible. Who knows, I may discover amazing artefacts like they did three years ago, which was an envelope containing 18 thank you letters from children evacuated to the manor house in 1939. The children were thanking Lord and Lady Crewe for the wonderful Christmas they had been treated to, which is so special.
“This is an incredible opportunity and I'm so grateful. When I was younger, I loved Horrible Histories and it inspired me to study history, so it seems fitting that I'm finishing my MA in Public History at the beautiful filming location of BBC Ghosts.”
Ilona Harris, Director of West Horsley Place Trust, said: “We are incredibly grateful to our founders Bamber Gascoigne and his wife Christina. The Bamber Gascoigne Bursary will honour their extraordinary gift to the community when they created our charity.
“With over 1,000 years of history to uncover at West Horsley Place, we are very much looking forward to the insights and stories Royal Holloway students will reveal, and we are proud to have the opportunity to support them on their first steps to a career in history.”
Bamber Gascoigne (1935-2022), co-founder of the West Horsley Place Trust, was an acclaimed historian and was passionate about widening public access to history. In addition to his work on TV – which included presenting University Challenge along with writing and presenting several history documentaries - Bamber published several books and set up the award-winning online encyclopedia, HistoryWorld.
When, in 2015, Bamber unexpectedly inherited West Horsley Place from his aunt, Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe, together with his wife Christina he created a charity so that the Grade I listed house and surrounding 400-acre estate could be accessible to as many people as possible. The Bamber Gascoigne Bursary honours Bamber’s extraordinary legacy and is a further step towards realising the Trust’s vision.