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Gentlemen and shopkeepers: supplying the country house in eighteenth-century England

Stobart, J. (2011) Gentlemen and shopkeepers: supplying the country house in eighteenth-century England. Economic History Review. 64(3), pp. 885-904. 0013-0117.

Item Type: Article
Abstract: The country house is well recognized as a site of elite patronage, an important vehicle of social and political ambition, and a statement of power and taste. Yet we know relatively little about the networks of supply and purchasing patterns of rural elites, or about how their practices related to broader changes in material culture. Drawing on a large sample of bills and receipts of the Leigh family of Stoneleigh in Warwickshire, this article recreates the processes through which the material culture of the family home was constructed. These reveal London as the source for many high quality goods, although the pattern of supply was not a simple dichotomy of local– everyday and metropolitan–luxury purchases. They also show the large number of shopkeepers patronized as the Leighs spread their purchases through choice, convenience, and expediency. Relating this to wider conceptions of consumption, the Leighs emerge as engaging in layered and sometimes conflicting consumer cultures. They were concerned with fashion as novelty and a marker of rank; but they also valued traditional markers of status. Social distinction was achieved through a continued emphasis on title and lineage as much as fashion or taste—value systems that were unavailable to the middling sorts
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5428 Retail trade
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions > HC94 By region or country > HC257 Great Britain > HC260.C6 Consumerism
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain > DA498 1714-1760
Creators: Stobart, Jon
Funders or Sponsors: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Grant Reference Number: AH/H008365/1
Projects: Consumption and the Country House, c.1730-1800
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > School of Social Sciences (to 2016)
University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities > History
Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > History
Date: August 2011
Date Type: Publication
Page Range: pp. 885-904
Journal or Publication Title: Economic History Review
Volume: 64
Number: 3
Language: English
ISSN: 0013-0117
Status: Published / Disseminated
Refereed: Yes

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