Consuming the country house

Tea and scones at the National Trust tearoom at Corfe Castle, on the Kingston Lacy estate, Dorset. ©NTPL/David Levenson

‘Consuming the Country House’ is the title of a conference that will take place at the University of Northampton on 18 and 19 April 2012.

Enamel portrait miniatures by Henry Bone above a a Sienna marble console table in the Drawing Room at Kingston Lacy. ©NTPL/James Mortimer

The theme of the conference is to look at the country house as an evolving social, economic and cultural phenomenon.

Portrait by Sir George Hayter (1792-1871) of William Bankes (1786-1855), who assembled the interiors and collections at Kingston Lacy as they largely remain today. ©NTPL/Angelo Hornak

Various papers will investigate how the country house was ‘consumed’ by its owners – how and why they were built and decorated – but also how the country house was and is  ‘consumed’ by visitors.

One of six planters in the shape of well-heads that were commissioned by William Bankes for Kingston Lacy in Verona. ©NTPL/Rupert Truman

Subjects will include stately homes in the Dutch Republic, Victorian country house food, le style Rothschild at Mentmore, the collecting and display of classical sculpture, ‘foreign’ porcelain in English country houses, queer pilgrimage and the country house, the history of visiting Stowe, adultery in the country house, music in Irish country houses and showing historic interiors ‘as found’ – to name but some of them. 

Visitors on the Marble Staircase at Kingston Lacy. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

My own contribution will be about ‘consuming’ East Asian and the changing significance of chinoiserie in country house settings – a subject that regular readers of this blog will recognise. A full listing of all the papers as well as booking forms can be found on the Consumption and the Country House website.

The images here are all of the Kingston Lacy estate, a place transformed by the taste of a wealthy ‘super-consumer’ in the early Victorian period and which still attracts present-day consumers of beauty – and of scones.

8 Responses to “Consuming the country house”

  1. HRH The Duchess of State Says:

    What an exciting conference dahhhling! I only regrett not being able to attend in person.. how very fascinating!

  2. Hélène BREMER Says:

    What a pleasant surprise to find the conference on your blog! Ever since I discovered Treasure Hunt through postings on Enfilade, I follow your blog to give me a regular escape from my research work. I usually dream away for an instant with the beautiful pictures of the houses and their details. Todays posting however brought me back to reality. I do have to work on my own contribution to this conference! Looking forward to meeting you in Northampton.

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    HRH, thanks.

    Hélène, how nice to hear from a fellow Leiden alumnus! I will look forward to your paper about classical sculpture in English houses. I am sorry that this particular post didn’t have the usual narcotic effect on you (in spite of the luscious scones) :)

  4. visitinghousesandgardens Says:

    Random point aboutt Kingston Lacy (a very nice house indeed) that I remember more about my day there than anything: they think they have a rabbit problem in the gardens but in facts it’s rats (or small grey rabbits with long thin tails!) – we saw one nibbling through the stems of all the tulips. We told a guide and he seemed very amused. I wonder if they’re still trying to combat “rabbits”…

    on a more serious notes, will the papers presented be published after the conference? £50 for both days plus £25 for dinner makes it tempting (and I’d definitely go if it was in London) but then given that it’s during ‘open season’ falling after Easter, I think of all the houses I could visit if going to Northants instead of sitting in a lecture theatre…

  5. deana Says:

    I would love to attend this… so much on my mind lately. Thinking of a place as a whole organism is exciting… hope to see many reports about it!!

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Visiting, yes it is funny how memory works, isn’t it? And it just goes to show how everyone ‘consumes’ country houses in different ways – including the rats or voles or whatever they were nibbling at the tulips :)

    You would have to ask Professor Jon Stobart, the organiser of the conference, if the papers will be published – I think you can access contact details through the link I inserted above.

    Deana, yes that is exactly what fascinates me about country houses: how they are organisms that have complicated internal workings but also change and evolve subject to external influences, and die and are reborn, etc etc.

  7. style court Says:

    Emile, sounds like no aspect of country house life has been ignored. Should be outstanding. Let us know if your talk and any of the others are filmed.

  8. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Courtney, yes not even the kitchen sink has been left out :) I am asking the organisers if and how the papers will be recorded.

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