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    “A Growing Feeling for Privacy”: rooms and room use in the English country house

    Retford, Kate “A Growing Feeling for Privacy”: rooms and room use in the English country house. In: Private Life in the English Country House: An Interdisciplinary Workshop, 24 Nov 2022, Copenhagen, Denmark. (Unpublished)

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    The English architectural historian Mark Girouard died a couple of months ago, prompting reflections on his impressive contribution to our understanding of the country house. Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History, published by Yale University Press in 1978, was a seminal moment for scholarship, crucially shifting attention from architects to owners, and to their houses as ‘machines for living in’. As part of this, Girouard provided a powerful narrative of increased desire for privacy in these properties, resulting in the physical distancing of servants and the introduction of features such as corridors. In this paper, I will reflect on the legacy of Girouard’s narrative, and subsequent discussions of the relationship of the public and private in the country house interior. Using a number of examples, I will consider how these concepts have been problematised. I will look at the critical role of sociability, and the degree to which the boundaries between public and private could shift depending on the event, the time of year and even the time of day.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Kate Retford
    Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2022 11:19
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:19


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