Monthly Archives: April 2014

Buying Milk in St. James’s Park & Georgian London

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Jane Austen's World

St. James’s Park offered some of the freshest, most wholesome milk during a Georgian London summer – the frothy hot liquid, or new milk, was drawn at the request of customers from cows that had grazed on the park’s lawns.

An estimated 8,500 cows were kept for milk near London.* Farmers milked their herds and carted in the milk to dairy retailers from as much as 20 miles away.

St James's Park, Soiron, François David, about 1780, Colour stipple engraving, with additional colour by hand. Bequeathed by Mrs M. V. Cunliffe. V & A Museum St James’s Park, Soiron, François David, about 1780, Colour stipple engraving, with additional colour by hand. Bequeathed by Mrs M. V. Cunliffe. V & A Museum

In idealized scenes, artists give us an insight into contemporary customs. A milkmaid is milking a cow in St. James’s Park as a young boy in a skeleton suit waits with his empty cup. The party consists of a soldier and a mother with two other children, a boy and a girl. These two have…

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Georgian Architecture in America

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I will begiFrontDoor1_500n with one of the most perfect examples of 18th Century Georgian architecture in America. Since Annapolis, Maryland has one of the highest concentrations of Georgian architecture in North America, it is no surprise that the most exquisite example is the Hammond-Harwood House. The house’s main entrance is reputed to be “the most beautiful door in America”, with outstanding proportion and balance, intricately carved woodwork and classical columns.  This house was designed and built to show the owner’s influence and affluence.  No photography is allowed of the inside of the house, so all interior photos have been taken from the internet and duly accredited.  All exterior photography is my own, taken in April 2014.  The house was designed by an Englishman, William Buckland, apprenticed in London to a prominent cabinetmaker. He immigrated to America to seek better fortunes, apprenticed to George Mason’s brother in Virginia. Many of the details of the house were designed from pattern books that were very popular in the 18th century, the likes of which Chippendale and Abraham Swann, were two of noteworthiness.

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Upstairs parlor Ihammond-Harwood website)

Dining room (Hammond-Harwood website)

William Kent, the reluctant Gothick

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The Country Seat

If asked what style of architecture one would associate with William Kent, one of the leading designers of the Georgian era, most would say Palladian and, if pushed, they might argue that his interiors are distinctly Baroque.  Yet Kent is also regarded as the creator of the ‘Gothick’ style of architecture; a blend of historical Gothic elements but applied, initially, within the structure of classical rules. This quickly evolved to have greater historical rigour, laying the groundwork for the more zealous interpretation by Victorians such as A.W.N. Pugin.  However, it could be argued that Kent was merely satisfying the stylistic whims of a patron and in his use of ‘Gothic’ elements, was actually continuing the Elizabethan practice of creating ‘symmetrical Gothic’, a visually impressive approach built on Renaissance principles.

Design for the east front of Esher Place, c1732 (copyright: Merton Heritage & Local Studies Centre) Design for the east front of Esher Place, c1732 (copyright: Merton Heritage & Local Studies Centre)

William Kent was born in 1685 in Bridlington…

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A note on (modern-day) piracy

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TURN to a historian

Greetings, spy-curious readers:

I have been contacted by someone closely connected with the production of TURN who expressed concern about the tone of the previous blog post. Let me be perfectly clear: “TURN to a Historian” DOES NOT and never will advocate, encourage, or endorse the illegal downloading of copyrighted material (including episodes of TURN) or any other form of piracy.

Since this blog has a vested interest in the ongoing success of TURN, the thought that we would encourage readers to undermine the show financially is pretty silly.  Viewers should support the show in whatever way they are able, and for most people, that involves watching TURN via cable or purchasing episodes individually on iTunes or Amazon.  Some fans, however, may not have the financial means to purchase conventional access to cable TV shows, and I meant to suggest that they seek out episodes of TURN via legally alternative…

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