The intellectual culture of the English country house, 1500-1700

Edited by Matthew Dimmock, Andrew Hadfield and Margaret Healy

The intellectual culture of the English country house, 1500-1700


  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9020-2
  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £90.00
  • Published Date: July 2015
  • BIC Category: Early Modern Literature, History, United Kingdom, Great Britain, European history, Architecture: residential buildings, domestic buildings, HISTORY / Social History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, ART / History / Romanticism, Humanities / British & Irish history, The arts / Palaces, chateaux, country houses


The intellectual culture of the English country house is a ground-breaking collection of essays by leading and emerging scholars, which uncovers the vibrant intellectual life of early modern provincial England. The essays in the volume explore architectural planning; libraries and book collecting; landscape gardening; interior design; the history of science and scientific experimentation; and the collection of portraits and paintings.

The essays demonstrate the significance of the English country house (e.g. Knole House, Castle Howard, Penshurst Place) and its place within larger local cultures that it helped to create and shape. They provide a substantial overview of the country house culture of early modern England and the complicated relationship between the provinces and the national, the country and the city, in a period of rapid social, intellectual and economic transformation. It will appeal to anyone interested in the culture of the country house and its place in early modern England.


'Over the two hundred years covered in this wide-ranging collection of articles, country houses were among the most important centres of literary and cultural activity in England. Their architecture, decoration, and social history have been extensively chronicled by Mark Girouard, Maurice Howard, and others, but their significance for English culture in its wider sense has received less scholarly attention. This engaging collection of short articles goes a long way towards redressing that balance . This well-written, well-edited volume deserves the attention of anyone interested in the art, literature, and wider culture of early modern England. It makes the important point that country houses were not just vehicles for ostentatious display; they could also be settings for creative leisure, or otium as the ancient Romans saw it in contrast to the negotium of the workaday world.'
Notes and Queries


Introduction - Matthew Dimmock, Andrew Hadfield and Margaret Healy
1. 'The Lordship of the Eye': Country houses as the setting for intellectual enquiry - Maurice Howard
Part I: Cultural reconstructions of the English country house
2. William Warham's Otford Palace: An Archbishop's motivations for building (c.1514-26) - Alden Gregory
3. Rediscovering a lost Tudor mansion through archives and manuscripts: The Rycote Project at the Bodleian Library - Matthew Neely
4. 'To Knole, and then 'To Penshurst': The network of patronage between two country houses in the early seventeenth century - Edward Town
Part II. Reconstructing the culture of the English country house
5. Decorating the Godly Gallery: Piety and politics in plasterwork at Lanhydrock House, Cornwall - Tara Hamling
6. Sir Thomas Smith's stillhouse at Hill Hall: printed books, antiquity and innovative practice - Richard Simpson
7. A most studious searcher after truth: the 9th Earl of Northumberland and Scientia - Alison McCann
8. Anne Finch and the fallen country house - Nicolle Jordan
9. Elite pageantry as popular news: Elvetham House, John Wolfe, and country-house entertainment in print - Elizabeth Zeman Kolkovich
Part III: The country house library and its intellectual significance
10. Country houses and the beginnings of bibliomania - James Raven
11. Looking back from 1700: problems in locating the country house library - Susie West
12. My Laydes Bookes att Noward...: Putting readers back into the english country house - Hannah DeGroff
Part IV. Case study: Wilton House
13. Wilton House and seventeenth-century country house literature - Anne Myers
14. Performing Arcadia: Wilton House, theatre, and power - Marta Straznicky
15. Wilton House and the art of floating meadows - Louise Noble
Afterword - Andy Loukes, Nicholas Pickwoad and Mark Purcell


Matthew Dimmock is Professor of Early Modern Studies at the University of Sussex

Andrew Hadfield is Professor of English at the University of Sussex

Margaret Healy is Professor of Literature and Culture at the University of Sussex

The intellectual culture of the English country house, 1500-1700

Edited by Matthew Dimmock, Andrew Hadfield, Margaret Healy

Hardcover £90.00 / $140.00

Paperback £18.99 / $27.95

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