New Book | Politics and the English Country House, 1688–1800

Posted in books by Editor on March 1, 2023

From McGill-Queen’s University Press:

Joan Coutu, Jon Stobart, and Peter Lindfield, eds., Politics and the English Country House, 1688–1800 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2023), 344 Pages, ISBN: 978-0228014027, $95.

Book coverPolitics has always been at the heart of the English country house, in its design and construction, as well as in the activities and experiences of those who lived in and visited these places. As Britain moved from an agrarian to an imperial economy over the course of the eighteenth century, the home mirrored the social change experienced in the public sphere. This collection focuses on the relationship between the country house and the mutable nature of British politics in the eighteenth century. Essays explore the country house as a stage for politicking, a vehicle for political advancement, a symbol of party allegiance or political values, and a setting for appropriate lifestyles. Initially the exclusive purview of the landed aristocracy, politics increasingly came to be played out in the open, augmented by the emergence of career politicians—usually untitled members of the patriciate—and men of new money, much of it created on Caribbean plantations or in the employ of the East India Company. Politics and the English Country House, 1688–1800 reveals how, during this period of profound change, the country house remained a constant. The country house was the definitive tangible manifestation of social standing and, for the political class, owning one became almost an imperative. In its consideration of the country house as lived and spatial experience, as an aesthetic and symbolic object, and as an economic engine, this book offers a new perspective on the complexity of political meaning embedded in the eighteenth-century country house—and on ourselves as active recipients and interpreters of its various narratives, more than two centuries later.

Joan Coutu is professor of art history and visual culture at the University of Waterloo.
Jon Stobart is professor of social history at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Peter Nelson Lindfield is lecturer in history at Manchester Metropolitan University.


Table and Figures

1  Introduction — Joan Coutu, Jon Stobart, and Oliver Cox

Part One: Political Positioning after the Glorious Revolution
2  Introduction — Oliver Cox
3  For Politics, Progresses, or Posterity? Some Alternative Reasons for Building State Apartments — Amy Lim
4  Holding Court at Marlborough House: The London Residence of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough — Juliet Learmouth

Part Two: The Question of Style
5  Introduction — Anne Bordeleau
6  Gothic Architecture and the Liberty Trope — Matthew M. Reeve
7  ‘Whig Gothic’: An Antidote to Houghton Hall — Peter N. Lindfield
8  The House with Two Faces: From Baroque to Palladian at Wentworth Woodhouse — Dylan Wayne Spivey

Part Three: The Social Politics of the Country House
9  Introduction — Jon Stobart
10  Burke’s Exemplum: The ‘Natural Family Mansion’ and Wentworth Woodhouse — Joan Coutu
11  House Painting: Place and Position in Estate Portraiture, circa 1770 — John Bonehill
12  The House and Estate of a Rich West Indian: Two Slaveholders in Eighteenth-Century East Anglia — Elisabeth Grass

Part Four: Houses and Homes
13  Introduction — Kate Retford
14  The Clives at Home: Self-Fashioning, Collecting, and British India — Kieran Hazzard
15  William Pitt the Younger, 1759–1806: Reshaping the Political Home — Rowena Willard-Wright

Afterword: Whose Country House? — Dana Arnold


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