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Fashion, heritance and family: new and old in the Georgian country house

Stobart, JV and Rothery, M (2015) Fashion, heritance and family: new and old in the Georgian country house. Cultural and Social History, 11 (3). pp. 385-406. ISSN 1478-0038

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Abstract

This article explores the material culture of the eighteenth-century aristocracy through a detailed analysis of the Leigh family of Stoneleigh Abbey. Drawing on a succession of detailed inventories and a large collection of receipted bills, the article explores changes and continuities in the spatiality of material culture at Stoneleigh and, in particular, the ways in which old and new coexisted through the differential construction and use of domestic space. On the basis of this evidence we argue that conspicuous consumption and positional goods were only one aspect of methodologies of distinction in the complex semiotics of status expressed through country house interiors. Rank, dignity and lineage were also expressed through older goods and goods with ‘patina’ value.

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