Seaside 100

Sandcastles, donkeys, piers and sticks of rock. Beach huts, paddle steamers, promenade shelters and ice cream cones. Our modern seaside is the sum of its parts and all those parts have their history. This book explores the best-loved features or our favourite holiday destinations, each object and building adding its own layer to the story of our shared seaside heritage. Using a mixture of historic images and modern photographs the book takes a roughly chronological journey through the things that have made our seaside distinctive.

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Publications 1 nation's host

The Nation’s Host: Butlin’s and the Story of the British Seaside

The Nation’s Host charts the incredible inside story of Butlin’s, from its origins in 1936 to its heyday in the mid-twentieth century and the challenges posed by the arrival of overseas package holidays. Lavishly illustrated throughout with evocative images from the Butlin’s archives, many of which have never been seen before, this is a unique insight into the history of a company long synonymous with the British seaside holiday.

A ‘beautifully designed and lovingly put together history’, Daily Mail Book of the Week

‘…a visual feast’ The Sunday Times


A bungalow is now understood to be a single storey home but that definition is a modern one and when introduced to Britain in the 1850s the bungalow concept implied much more. Its origins lay in the humble dwellings of Bengal which were adopted as colonial residences throughout India before being translated into a new type of holiday home for wealthy Britons. The earliest Western examples were substantial properties complete with verandahs and servants’ quarters but their use as retreats from city life, combined with links to the Arts and Crafts Movement, helped set the tone for the bungalow as a Bohemian escape well into the twentieth century. Focusing on the British bungalow before World War II this book explores its social, cultural and architectural development, revealing why the building type was not only hugely desirable but also highly romanticised.


The 1950s Kitchen

The post-war era saw rapid change as the kitchen moved to the centre of family life, equipped with the labour saving technology that we now take for granted. Fitted units were marketed as the ultimate in practical and decorative furniture taking the place of the traditional kitchen table and dresser. This book looks at the new materials and colours that brightened up the 1950s kitchen, products like Formica, vinyl floor tiles and wipe-clean wallpapers. There are chapters on the latest appliances and gadgets, as well as a look at Fifties food – think aspic and vol-au-vonts!

Holiday Camps

Holiday camps were hugely popular from the 1930s to 1960s with the big names Butlin’s, Pontin’s and Warner’s still in operation to this day. However, their style of all-inclusive leisure actually began much earlier with the first recognisable holiday camp opening its doors (or, in those days, tent flaps) on the Isle of Man in the 1890s. This highly illustrated book tells the story of an important strand of seaside culture, one beloved by millions of Britons.


The Victorian Home

Thanks to the Industrial Revolution Victorian homes were full of stuff. It might look like clutter to us but as more people joined the burgeoning middle class, purchasing decisions became increasingly important as indicators of status and taste. My Shire book on The Victorian Home looks at how middle class houses changed during the long reign of Queen Victoria, exploring the social history of how rooms were used and the developments in style that influenced the look of exterior and interior design. A must for anyone who lives in a Victorian house…

‘…a tall order to cover such a vast subject in a hundred or so pages. Fortunately, Ferry has an enviable grasp of the big picture, which she illustrates throughout with details likely to be new to most readers.’ Read the full review at Victorian Web

The British Seaside Holiday

‘This book is a comprehensive presentation of the British Seaside Holiday. It is historically accurate and well illustrated. It is also a very good read. It will bring nostalgia for some, but is also an important historical record.’

Read the full review here


Sheds on the Seashore: A Tour through Beach Hut History

‘A fascination for beach huts has taken Kathryn Ferry on an odyssey around the British coast…recording the huts she finds and the people she meets. The result is part historical account, part travelogue, consistently entertaining and peppered with anecdotes. An excellent account of these most idiosyncratic of British buildings.’

Coast magazine

Beach Huts and Bathing Machines

Behind the enduring popularity of beach huts lies a story of classic British eccentricity. Immensely photogenic and appealing, these colourful seaside buildings are direct successors of the Georgian bathing machine, which first appeared in the 1730s as a peculiar device to protect the modesty of rich and fashionable bathers. Kathryn Ferry paints a picture postcard view of the classic British seaside holiday through the history of beach huts and bathing machines, revealing how the changing fashions in society shaped their design and development. It provides a fascinating celebration of the evolution of the beach hut from its unusual beginnings, to its status as a much-loved and sought-after structure by many a British holiday maker to this day.

Shire bestseller of 2009


Powerhouses of Provincial Architecture, 1837-1914

As organiser of The Victorian Society’s symposium on ‘Powerhouses of Provincial Architecture’ I subsequently edited the papers for publication. Among them are articles by Dr Geoff Brandwood on the evidence for architectural practices outside London and the churches of Paley and Austin, and Dr Sarah Whittingham on Sir George Oatley of Bristol. The volume also includes my own paper on “The maker of modern Yarmouth’: J.W. Cockrill’ charting the transformative impact of Cockrill’s work as Borough Surveyor of Great Yarmouth from 1882-1922.

The Old Convent East Grinstead: John Mason Neale, George Edmund Street and the Society of St Margaret

In the mid-nineteenth century becoming a nun meant achieving a surprising emancipation; women whose socially sanctioned path was marriage and motherhood instead found themselves as nurses, teachers and social workers. The Society of St Margaret was founded at East Grinstead in 1854 and by 1883 was the largest Anglican religious house in the country. This book tells the story behind its beautiful Gothic convent, blending architectural history with an account of the how the Sisters lived, their world-renowned embroidery workshop, St Margaret’s Orphanage and the convent school of St Agnes and St Michael.

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Other Writing


I have written National Trust guidebooks to Chastleton in the Cotswolds and Lacock in Wiltshire. The latter encompasses the history of Lacock Abbey, Lacock village and the internationally important Fox Talbot Museum of photography.

Magazine articles

I have contributed to magazines including BBC History Magazine, Coast, The Guardian, Country Life, Apollo, Crafts Magazine, C20 Magazine, Period Ideas and Countryside Voice

Academic articles

My 2004 PhD thesis is entitled ‘Awakening a Higher Ambition: The Influence of Travel upon the Early Career of Owen Jones.’ It is available via the University of Cambridge and there is also a copy in the National Art Library at the V&A Museum. For a list of my articles on Owen Jones click here