The Country House

BookThe Country House

The Country House

Material culture and consumption

Historic England


January 1st, 2016





This book presents a series of conference papers which explore a topic that has received a good deal of interest in recent years, namely the material culture of the country house and its presentation to the public. This links in with academic interest in the consumption practices of the elite, and in the country house as a lived and living space, which was consciously transformed according to fashion and personal taste; but also ties in well with our concern as curators to present a coherent narrative of English Heritage and other properties and their contents to the modern visitor.

The proceedings address a number of current academic debates about elite consumption practices, and the role of landed society as arbiters of taste. By looking at the country house as lived space many of the papers throw up interesting questions about the accumulation and arrangement of objects; the way in which rooms were used and experienced by both owners and visitors, and how this sense of ‘living history’ can be presented meaningfully to the public. The conference was international in scope, so the experience in the United Kingdom can be compared with that in other European countries, throwing new light on our understanding of consumption and the country house.

This is an impressive collection of essays about country houses and the ways their inhabitants furnished them and bought the other things they needed and wanted.

English Buidings Blogspot

There is very much more to ponder and enjoy in this well-illustrated and thoroughly researched book and as it is packed with interesting references I suspect that it will not gather dust on the bookshelf.

David Brown

Landscape History, Volume 38, Issue 1, 2017

... It is a superb book, not only because of the quality of the illustrations and production, but because it provide new insights on the development of the country estate within the context of an increasingly materialistic nation.

Janice Gooch

Context 150, July 2017

Author Information

Andrew Hann is Properties Historians’ Team Leader at English Heritage with particular responsibility for researching and writing about the country houses in their care. Before joining English Heritage in 2007 he worked for a number of years as an academic. His research interests centre on the history of retail, consumption and material culture. Jon Stobart is Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University.