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Title: The discernment of merit : a review of Georgian Edinburgh, 1746-1793
Author: Bell, D. J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1994
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Rapid growth of Edinburgh's New Town and equally rapid decline of the old city has overshadowed all later writings on the period and led to an accepted belief that the new was clean, elegant, spacious, healthy, while the old was dirty, quaint, cramped, and disease ridden. The validity of this view was examined by comparison to evidence from unpublished contemporary sources - mainly the Dean of Guild Court records, backed by Council Minutes and newspaper advertisements. A detailed picture of the town was built up, with emphasis on its spatial form and the layout, cost, situation, inhabitants, and condition of its lesser buildings. Contrary to the general view, and in particular to that of the celebrated "Proposals" of 1752, this showed the pre-New Town city to have been spacious, low -built, with a wide choice of dwellings, many with courts or gardens, and most well -maintained. When new development and its occupiers were put into the context of contemporary society, a link formed between hostility to the layout and hostility to the social order it imposed. Characteristics designed to re- inforce a feudal organisation (stripped of its remaining power immediately after the Jacobites' defeat in 1746) appeared antipathetic to the aspirations of the "commercial" society which subsequently emerged. As suburban lodgings became a sign of social achievement, lodging in the town became socially unacceptable though little difference in size, style, and condition of most city and suburban dwellings was discovered. The city's physical decay appears to have begun only after further restructuring of society was repressed in 1793, when its standing became frozen in a radically diminished position. Information on a missing segment of Edinburgh's architectural history, of practical use to those wishing to conserve the value of the area, was uncovered. It was also concluded that the prevention of neglect and redundancy might be achieved by a deeper awareness of the social processes involved in what is often a wholesale disregard of old buildings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available