|18th Century Tourism
Written by JulieW
(11/13/2003 9:47 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Tourism, penned by Line
First with the developments in travel .If you couldn't "get" to a country house easily,..well, you understand I am sure.
Secondly ,The Grand Tour,as taken by Edward Knight,JA's brother, was tourism on a grand expensive and foreign scale,but the wars with Napoleon curtailed foreign travel to a large extent.
The rise in the cult of "taste", as advocated by Edmund Burke,espeically with regard to his "Philosopical enquiry into the Origins of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful "(1757) and the "Picturesque" as develpoed by William Gilpin and his books, meant that peopel at last began to explore their own country., equipped with sophisticated quides for the evaluation of art, architecture and natural scenery.
The late 18th century tourist saw the visiting of country houses, not only as a pleasant activity, but one which gave them an opportuity to develop and exhibit ones "taste".
Horace Walpole wrote in 1783 ( ina letter to Sir Thomas Mann)
"I am tormented all day and every day by people that come to see my house,and ahve no enjoyment of it in summer.it would be even in vain to say that the plague was here.I remember such a report i London when I was a child ,and my uncle Lord Townshend,then secretary of state,was forced to send guards to keep off the crowd from the house in which the plague was said to be-they would go and see the plague.had I been maste of the house, i should have said...."Yoou see the plague! you are teh plague".
Poor old Horace was so inundated with visitors to his extraordinary house-Strawberry hill,Richmond, that after he had been disturbedat dinner by the arrival of three Germans Barns who wished to visit his hosue, he eventually would only allow his housekeeper to admit people to his house if they could show her a signed ticket obtained from him in advance.Such was the demand for these visits that Walpole had tickets printed- he still signed them and inserted the date of the propsed vist(!)- and indeed went so far as to print " a page of rules for admission to see my House":
".....Mr Walople is very ready to oblige any curious persons with the sight of his hosue and his collection....it is but reasonable that such persons as send, should comlpy with the rules he has been obilged to lay down for showing it.
No ticket will serve but on the day for which it is given.If more than four persons come witha ticket,the housekeeper has positive order to admit none of them.....
Every ticket will admit the company only between the hours of twelve and three before dinner,and only one company will be admitted on the same day.
They that have tickets are desired not to bring children....."
Chatsworth was the first house to adopt the habit of reserving "open days" for touristsand as earlyas 1760 it ws open only on two public days each week.
Derbyshire was a very popular desinatoin- with the Peak district,Matlock, spas at Buxton and houses such as Chatsworth,Haddon hall and Kedelston.
The picture above is of Mrs Garnett who was the housekeeper at Kedelston and was famous for her guided tour.In her hand you can see a copy of this Catalogue of Pictures, Statues, &c. at Kedleston, ready to ‘put it into the hand’ of the next enquiring visitor. Such guidebooks had been produced at Kedleston since 1769, with subsequent editions revised to take account of the expanding art collection. It was an important means of recording the identities of the sitters in portraits, which were of greater interest to 18th-century visitors than matters of attribution or iconography!!. A consequence of not having such aids was recorded by Horace Walpole, who described how at Petworth the 6th Duke of Somerset refused to let his servants have new picture lists, ‘so that when he died, half the portraits were unknown by the family’!
Although it was by no means uncommon for house servants to act as guides, it was unusual for the housekeeper herself to be painted. That she was immortalised in this way perhaps indicates the respect and affection in which this long-serving and highly capable servant was held; indeed, she was given a gravestone describing her as ‘sincerely regretted’.
In 1777 she took Samuel Johnson and James Boswell around the house: ‘Our names were sent up, and a well-drest elderly housekeeper, a most distinct articulator, shewed us the house… We saw a good many fine pictures… There is a printed catalogue of them which the housekeeper put into my hand; I should like to view them at leisure.’
James Plumptre was clearly very impressed by her when she met him in the Marble Hall and showed him round in 1793: ‘she seem’d to take a delight in her business, was willing to answer any questions which were ask’d her, and was studious to shew the best lights for viewing the pictures and setting off the furniture'
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