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.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Introduction Jon Stobart The country house and cultures of consumption
Section 1: Elites, consumption and the country house
1. Yme Kuiper - The rise of the country house in the Dutch Republic: beyond Johan Huizinga’s narrative of Dutch civilisation in the 17th century
2. Jane Whittle - The gentry as consumers in early 17th-century England
3. Johanna Ilmakunnas - To build according to one’s status: a country house in late 18th-century Sweden
4. Mark Rothery and Jon Stobart - Geographies of supply: Stoneleigh Abbey and Arbury Hall in the 18th century
5. Shelley Garland - The use of French architectural design books in De Grey's choice of style at Wrest Park
Section 2: Continuity, heritage and the country house
6. Hannah Chavasse - Fashion and ‘affectionate recollection’: material culture at Audley End, 1762–1773
7. Hanneke Ronnes - A sense of heritage: renewal versus preservation in the English and Dutch palaces of William III in the 18th century
8. Victor Hugo López Borges - An Anglo-Irish country house in Spain: the Palacio de Castrelos
Section 3: Eastern connections, adoptions and imitations
9. Emile de Bruijn - Consuming East Asia: continuity and change in the development of chinoiserie
10. Kate Smith - Imperial objects? Country house interiors in 18th-century Britain
11. Patricia F Ferguson - ‘Japan China’ taste and elite ceramic consumption in 18th-century England: revising the narrative
12. Helen Clifford - ‘Conquests from North to South’: The Dundas property empire. New wealth, constructing status and the role of ‘India’ goods in the British country house.
Section 4: Country house interiors as lived spaces
13. Rosie MacArthur - Settling into the country house: the Hanburys at Kelmarsh Hall
14. Susan Jenkins - Fashion and function: the decoration of the library at Kenwood in context
15. Karol Mullaney- Dignam Useless and extravagant? The consumption of music in the Irish country house
16. Annie Gray - Broccoli, bunnies and beef: supplying the edible wants of the Victorian country house
Section 5: Presenting the country house
17. Nicola Pickering M- ayer Amschel de Rothschild and Mentmore Towers: displaying ‘le goût Rothschild’
18. Anna McEvoy - Following in the footsteps of 18th-century tourists: the visitor experience at Stowe over 300 years
19. Karen Fielder - X marks the spot: narratives of a lost country house