I was talking to Dr Kate Smith yesterday about a project she is involved in called ‘The East India Company at home’. The project is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and aims to place country house interiors of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in a wider global context.
The Warwick University project team, led by Professor Margot Finn, will explore the routes by which Asian luxury goods ended up in the homes of the propertied classes in England, Scotland and Wales in the Georgian and early Victorian periods.
The team welcomes collaboration with individuals and groups engaged in research into country houses, material culture and the history of colonialism and empire. This is an interesting attempt to incorporate ‘crowd sourcing’ into a research project – of which there have been recent examples on this blog as well, including the card-racks at Attingham and the portrait of the Chinese page at Knole.
The aim is to weave together a series of case studies of places, objects and people that illuminate the way in which trade and colonialism shaped British material culture and identity. Some National Trust colleagues, including members of the team at Osterley Park, have already expressed an interest to contribute.
The project website already hosts bibliographies and other research tools, and it will gradually become a portal for research and information about the global context of the British country house.