Visits to country houses are an important leisure pursuit throughout the British Isles, not just to appreciate their superb architecture, great paintings and elaborate furniture but also to experience something of the past life of our great families.
Abandoned lifestyles can be disinterred from them in much the same way as from the layers of an archaeological dig.
By the 19th century, life in most country houses changed as a result of various technical inventions such as improved water supplies, flushing water closets, boilers and pipes to provide central heating, internal communications by bells and then telephones, and better lighting by means of gas and electricity.
Country houses, however, were usually too far from urban centres to take advantage of centralised sources of supply and so were obliged to set up their own systems if they wanted any of these services to improve the comfort of daily living.
It also sets out to discover what evidence has survived for the impact of technological innovation on the buildings, contents, parks and gardens of country houses and on the lives of the people within them.
Many books have been devoted to the life of those in domestic service in such houses, but what this book tries to do is to look not so much at the social records of their lives as the actual physical evidence for the greater levels of comfort and convenience sought by landowners in country houses from the 18th to the early 20th centuries.
Technology in the Country House has been awarded the Peter Neaverson Award for Academic Excellence by the Association for Industrial Archaeology.
About the authors:
Marilyn Palmer read History at Oxford University and completed her career as a university teacher as Professor of Industrial Archaeology and Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester.
She was a commissioner with the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and has served on various committees concerned with archaeology and industrial archaeology for English Heritage, the Council for British Archaeology and the National Trust.
Marilyn is President of the Association for Industrial Archaeology, and has published numerous books and articles. In 2015 she received an MBE for services to industrial archaeology and heritage. Ian West is a chartered engineer who worked for 27 years in the British gas industry before studying for a MA in Industrial Archaeology at the University of Birmingham - Ironbridge Institute.
He followed this with a PhD from the University of Leicester, researching lighting in early factories.
He has written several articles and book chapters, mainly on the archaeology of the utility industries.
Ian has undertaken several projects on country house technology for both the National Trust and English Heritage.
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