Ben Cowell

Director General, Historic Houses Association


I run the Historic Houses Association, which represents over 1,600 important country houses in independent ownership. These houses come in different shapes and sizes, but share the same basic characteristics in that they remain lived-in family homes. Keeping these houses in good repair is expensive, and our members work hard to raise the funds needed. Sometimes this is by tourism, and houses in the HHA receive 24 million visits each year. But all sorts of other activities are found at historic houses, among them TV and film production, holiday accommodation, and retail and catering.
The Historic Houses Association represents more houses than are owned by National Trust and English Heritage combined. I have also worked for both of these organisations, and therefore can talk about the different approaches that they take. I can also talk about heritage issues more generally, and about developing a career in heritage.