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Noble Households: Eighteenth Century Inventories of Great English Houses - a Tribute to John Cornforth

Noble Households: Eighteenth Century Inventories of Great English Houses - a Tribute to John Cornforth (Hardback)

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Published in memory of the architectural historian John Cornforth, these great house inventories document the taste and lifestyle of leading aristocratic patrons and the households that supported them. John Cornforth (1937-2004), the eminent architectural historian and passionate advocate of the historic interior, believed that inventories were an unrivalled primary resource for the interpretation of the historic interior. The book serves as a tribute to his lifelong interest in the field. Cornforth saw the importance of inventories in inspiring not just changes in approach to the history of the great house, but in underpinning the interpretation of the way in which these houses were used and lived in. They reflect the interest in household management, the daily lives of the servants who maintained the house while the owner was absent, and the equipment needed to provide for grand entertainments when the owner was at home. Now that there is such fascination with the history of food and life below stairs, the contents of the kitchen and scullery assume as much interest as the grand rooms of entertainment.

These inventories provide an opportunity to compare the arrangements of the interiors of the great country houses and town houses of the same noble families in different generations. They will inspire yet fuller interpretations of the households they document, and appeal to country house visitors and historians of interiors, patronage and collecting, as well as to art directors of historical films and creative designers.

Dr. Tessa Murdoch is Acting Keeper at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She has worked in the Furniture and Woodwork Department and is now in the Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass Department. She worked with John Cornforth on the publication Boughton House: The English Versailles, 1992.

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