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‘So agreeable and suitable a place’: The Character, Use and Provisioning of a Late Eighteenth-Century Suburban Villa

Stobart, JON (2015) ‘So agreeable and suitable a place’: The Character, Use and Provisioning of a Late Eighteenth-Century Suburban Villa. Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 39 (1). pp. 89-102. ISSN 1754-0194

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Abstract

The suburban villa rose to prominence in eighteenth century Britain, forming an escape from the city for prosperous merchants and professionals as well as wealthy landowners. Whilst we know something of their geography ad much more about their architectural form, their material culture, day to day use and links to the city remain largely unexplored outside a few well-known examples. This paper examines these issues through a detailed case study of Grove House in Kensington Gore, the property of the Honourable Mary Leigh. Drawing on a large collection of bills, it examines the processes of furnishing and maintaining the house; the lifestyle of its owner, and the ways in which it drew on and fed into metropolitan systems of supply. It challenges our understanding of the villa as a semi-rural retreat and argues that, for some at least, it offered a gateway to London society and shopping.

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