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Title: 'X' marks the spot : the history and historiography of Coleshill House, Berkshire
Author: Fielder, Karen
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2012
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Coleshill House was a much admired seventeenth-century country house which the architectural historian John Summerson referred to as ‘a statement of the utmost value to British architecture’. Following a disastrous fire in September 1952 the remains of the house were demolished amidst much controversy shortly before the Coleshill estate including the house were due to pass to the National Trust. The editor of The Connoisseur, L.G.G. Ramsey, published a piece in the magazine in 1953 lamenting the loss of what he described as ‘the most important and significant single house in England’. ‘Now’, he wrote, ‘only X marks the spot where Coleshill once stood’. Visiting the site of the house today on the Trust’s Coleshill estate there remains a palpable sense of the absent building. This thesis engages with the house that continues to exist in the realm of the imagination, and asks how Coleshill is brought to mind not simply through the visual signals that remain on the estate, but also through the mental reckoning resulting from what we know and understand of the house. In particular, this project explores the complexities of how the idea of Coleshill as a canonical work in British architectural histories was created and sustained over time. By considering how past owners of Coleshill subscribed to the notion of the canonical house this thesis contributes new knowledge about architectural ideology and practice in the long eighteenth century. Furthermore an examination of the pivotal moment when the house was lost in the mid-twentieth century sheds new light on how approaches to historic architecture impacted on ideas of national heritage at the time. This allows us not only to become more cognizant of the absent house, but the practice of formulating architectural histories is itself exposed to scrutiny.
Supervisor: Arnold, Dana Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain