Through the Georgian keyhole

Research into 18th-century bills and account books is revealing how the gentry spent their money furnishing and running their grand country houses. Following the BBC Two series The Country House Revealed, Jon Stobart takes a peek into some of the finest mansions in Georgian Britain...

Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire. (Photo by Archimage/Alamy Stock Photo)

This article was first published in the August 2011 issue of BBC History Magazine

In 1763, William Butler, the house steward at Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire, wrote to a London furniture dealer that he should not send anything yet as they were waiting for “the chimney pieces & the carvers to finish the architraves, etc. for the doors & windows which must be compleated before the hangings can be put up or we shall begin at the wrong end of our work”. These fraught processes of consumption are not usually given much thought, but new research is revealing something of this secret life of the country house.

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