Consumption and the Country House

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Oxford University Press, May 20, 2016 - History - 336 pages
This study explores the consumption practices of the landed aristocracy of Georgian England. Focussing on three families and drawing on detailed analysis of account books, receipted bills, household inventories, diaries and correspondence, Consumption and the Country House charts the spending patterns of this elite group during the so-called consumer revolution of the eighteenth century. Generally examined through the lens of middling families, homes and motivations, this book explores the ways in which the aristocracy were engaged in this wider transformation of English society. Analysis centres on the goods that the aristocracy purchased, both luxurious and mundane; the extent to which they pursued fashionable modes and goods; the role that family and friends played in shaping notions of taste; the influence of gender on taste and refinement; the geographical reach of provisioning and the networks that lay behind this consumer activity, and the way this all contributed to the construction of the country house. The country house thus emerges as much more than a repository of luxury and splendour; it lay at the heart of complex networks of exchange, sociability, demand, and supply. Exploring these processes and relationships serves to reanimate the country house, making it an active site of consumption rather than simply an expression of power and taste, and drawing it into the mainstream of consumption histories. At the same time, the landed aristocracy are shown to be rounded consumers, driven by values of thrift and restraint as much as extravagant desires, and valuing the old as well as the new, not least as markers of their pedigree and heritance.

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Anatomy of Elite Spending Fashion Luxury and Splendour
Constructing the Country House Habitus Performance and Assemblages of Goods
Practicalities Utility and the Everydayness of Consumption
Gentlemens Things The Masculine World of Goods and Consumption as Selffashioning
Gentlewomens Things Women and Country House Consumption
Consumption and the Household Family Friends and Servants
Supplying the Country House Craftsmen and Retailers
Geographies of Consumption Hierarchies Localities and Shopping

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About the author (2016)

Jon Stobart is Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University. His has published widely on the history of consumption, retailing and leisure in eighteenth-century England, and has a particular interest in the spatiality of consumption and the marketing of goods. His recent publications include Sugar and Spice: Grocer and Groceries in Provincial England, 1650-1830 (2013), Selling Textiles in the Long Eighteenth Century (2014), co-edited with Bruno Blonde, and The Country House: Material Culture and Consumption (2015), co-edited with Andrew Hann. Mark Rothery is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Northampton. He specialises in the history of landed elites and has published widely in this area on themes such as gender, masculinity, sociability and landed estates. He co-authored a book with Professor Henry French entitled Man's Estate: Landed Gentry Masculinities 1660-1914 (2012) and is the author of a number of major journal articles.

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