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Bedford Fellowship

The deadline for applications to the 2023 Bedford scheme has now passed.

Scheme Summary

Leeds Arts & Humanities Research Institute, in collaboration with the University of Leeds Special Collections, is pleased to announce the John Bedford Fellowship for 2023.

The John Bedford Fellowship is designed exclusively for a researcher to make use of the John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History in Special Collections at the University of Leeds.

Collection Overview

John Bedford assembled his library over a period of 45 years and gifted it in 2019 to the University of Leeds. Since Spring 2020 a team of specialists have been working on cataloguing the collection. Its focus is 17th-20th century furniture history, particularly British, and its intersection with other subjects, for example, garden design and history, topography, metalwork in relation to furnishings, textiles, interior design, the English home, architecture, and the Grand Tour. The library comprises some 3,000 printed items and extensive archival material, including the research notes of the furniture historians Edward T. Joy and Pauline Agius.

Particular strengths of the library are the rare books of ornament, the furniture and metalwork pattern books and related trade catalogues, the Birmingham trade directories (1770-1900) and cabinet-makers' books of prices, complemented by a remarkable trade card collection of more than 500 items dating from c.1680-c.1999, a significant cabinet-makers' archive, and an extensive collection of modern (post 1850) reference works.

Applicants may find relevant links to the current catalogue here.

Scholars working in and across any discipline(s) in the Arts and Humanities are eligible to apply. This collection is particularly relevant to those with research interests in Architecture and Architectural History, History of Art and Design, Book History, Business History, History of Printing, Social and Economic History, History of Science, and Material Culture. Research proposals in the following thematic areas/topics, utilising all aspects of the collection, are particularly welcomed:

    • British, French, and German furniture makers and furniture designers of 17th-20th centuries
    • Rare 17th, 18th and early 19th-century drawing books by Joseph Moxon, John Tinney, Rudolph Ackermann, and other British and continental figures.
    • Rare 17th and 18th-century books of ornament by Thomas Chippendale Jnr, François Vivares, Jean Le Potre and others
    • Cottage and country house architecture, and landscape gardening, including works by John Soane, Robert Adam, Edmund Bartell, William Halfpenny, and William Chambers.
    • The Birmingham metalware trades and traders.
    • London furniture and associated trades and traders
    • Early scientific manuals and handbooks on building, carpentry, and industrial arts, such as silver casting and glass-making.
    • 19th century Great Exhibitions in Europe.
    • Textiles and associated crafts.
    • 18th-century printers and engravers of rare furniture and other pattern books, for example, J. and I. Taylor, Henry Webley, Robert Sayer, Collectors and former owners.
    • Successful applicants will be supported to spend the equivalent of two months full-time in Leeds to carry out their research activities. 

The Fellow will be appointed by the end of January 2023. There will be some flexibility in start date, though it is intended that the Fellowship will begin in late Spring 2023 and will last for two months (full time or equivalent). Research must be completed by the end of August 2023

On completion of their research, the Fellow is required to produce a scholarly output, such as an academic journal article, focused on material from the Bedford Collection. The Fellow is also required to give a lecture/seminar on the Bedford Collection and their research whilst at Leeds, hosted in Special Collections. The Fellow will also write a blog post to promote the Bedford Collection and their research for use on the Special Collections and LAHRI websites. During 2022 our inaugural Bedford Fellow, Dr Hillary Taylor wrote several blogs for Special Collections. Other social media activity is encouraged during the Fellowship and the Special Collections team will advise on this. There will also be an opportunity for the Fellow to contribute to a major exhibition on the Bedford Collection scheduled for 2024.

The Fellow will receive a payment of £6,000 to enable them to spend time in Leeds undertaking the research. This will be subject to the usual tax and National Insurance contributions at source.


The deadline for applications is 9am on Monday 09 January 2023. The Fellowship start date will be flexible, but all research must be completed by the end of August 2023.


Candidates who have completed their PhD at any university are eligible. The selection of the Fellow will be based on the candidates’ ability to make full use of and promote the Bedford Collection to the wider research community.

 All candidates must have passed their PhD viva by the application deadline. Exceptions to this will be considered where a strong case can be made that the applicant would still be in a position to complete the work on the above timescale.

We are keen to enable flexible working, and Fellowships can also be undertaken on a part-time basis.

Down load the application form and Extended Scheme Guidance now


Further information         

For any further information on these fellowships not covered in the extended guidance, please contact the LAHRI Manager.