Home of our Postgraduate Certificate in Heritage Research training
Blaydes House was built around 1740 as the home and business premises of the Blaydes family. The family included shipbuilders, shipowners, merchants and local political figures who played a leading part in the commercial and civic life of eighteenth-century Hull. The house, with its elegant panelled rooms and sweeping carved staircase, demonstrates the prosperity and self-confidence of the town’s mercantile elite. It is a typical Georgian merchant’s house, among the most impressive of several such buildings that have survived on the High Street. The house has been sympathetically restored, with period colour schemes. Since 2001 Blaydes House has been the home of the University of Hull’s Maritime Historical Studies Centre.
From medieval times to the nineteenth century, the High Street was the commercial heart of Hull and home to its most important merchant dynasties. Blaydes House was built as their family home and as a place to entertain clients and conduct business. This is reflected in the grandeur of the hallway, the sweeping carved staircase and the fine panelling and plasterwork in many of the rooms. Blaydes House was designed to impress and to demonstrate wealth and status, but it was also a place of work, and the land behind it accommodated warehouses and a quay where the Blaydes’ ships unloaded. The family’s shipyards on the River Hull and at Hessle Cliff built many vessels for local shipowners, and also for the Royal Navy. The most famous was theBethia, built as a collier in 1782 but bought by the Navy five years later and converted into HMAV Bounty. Others included HMS Boreas, once commanded by Nelson and HMS Rose.
The Blaydes family left Hull during the nineteenth century, and the house passed through a variety of owners before being bought by the University of Hull in 1999. The University subsequently restored the house, with period colour schemes and sympathetic modifications to fit it for its new role as the home of the Maritime Historical Studies Centre. In addition to office space, the beautifully carved drawing room now serves as a lecture theatre, and the servants’ quarters house one of the finest maritime history libraries in the country, open to the public by appointment. Blaydes House is also home to the Pettifer Art Collection, some of which is on display. The Maritime Historical Studies Centre runs a public lecture series at Blaydes House from October to May each year, and from autumn 2014 will also run a monthly lunchtime concert series organised by the University of Hull Music Department.
The Postgraduate Certificate in Heritage Research forms the core training for our Heritage PhD students. It is led by the University of Hull and benefits from contributions taught by guest lecturers based at each of the Heritage Consortium universities.
Text adapted from a description of Blaydes House by Dr Martin Wilcox, Maritime Historical Studies Centre, University of Hull, photographs taken by Rebecca Hiscott, University of Hull and University of Huddersfield AHRC-funded PhD student.