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Title: A modern-built house ... fit for a gentleman : elites, material culture and social strategy in Britain, 1680-1770
Author: Hague, Stephen G.
ISNI:       0000 0003 6621 8187
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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A 1755 advert in the Gloucester Journal listed for sale, 'A MODERN-BUILT HOUSE, with four rooms on a floor, fit for a gentleman'. In the late-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, 'gentlemen's houses' like the one described evolved as a cultural norm. This thesis offers a social and cultural reading of an under-studied group of small free-standing classical houses built in the west of England between 1680 and 1770. By developing a profile of eighty-one gentlemen's houses and one hundred and thirty-four builders and owners, this study unites subjects such as the history of architecture, landscapes, domestic interiors, objects and social development that are often treated separately. The design, spatial arrangement, and furnishings of gentlemen's houses precisely defined the position of their builders and owners in the social hierarchy. The 1720s marked an important shift in the location and meaning of building that corresponded to an alteration in the background of builders. Small classical houses moved from a relatively novel form of building for the gentry to a conventional choice made by newcomers often from commercial and professional backgrounds. Gentlemen's houses projected status in a range of settings for both landed and non-landed elites, highlighting the house as a form of status-enhancing property rather than land. Moreover, gentlemen's houses had adaptable interior spaces and were furnished with an array of objects that differed in number and quality from those lower and higher in society. The connections between gentlemen's houses and important processes of social change in Britain are striking. House-building and furnishing were measured strategic activities that calibrated social status and illustrated mobility. This thesis demonstrates that gentlemen's houses are one key to understanding the permeability of the English elite as well as the combination of dynamism and stability that characterized eighteenth-century English society.
Supervisor: Gauci, P. G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Architecture ; Civic & landscape art ; Drawing & decorative arts ; Architecture ; Landscape ; Materials studies (archaeology) ; Economic and Social History ; Eighteenth-Century Britain and Europe ; material culture ; architecture ; country houses ; gentlemen ; genteel ; decorative arts ; inventories ; classical ; Georgian ; social history ; cultural history ; Atlantic world