University of Sussex
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The state apartment in the Jacobean country house, 1603-1625

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:46 authored by Emily Vanilla Cole
This thesis explores the state apartment in the Jacobean country house – its status, function, use, planning, decoration and furnishing. It does so against various different backgrounds. Firstly, that of the royal progress, during which Tudor and early Stuart monarchs – in particular, James I – would visit private residences around the country. The nature of such visits are explored, using a large amount of primary evidence and drawing upon a full itinerary of James I’s reign, compiled for the first time as part of this thesis. A different context, that of royal palaces, is then considered, particular focus being given to the use and accessibility of state apartments. This subject is further explored within the context of the noble household. The use of state rooms beyond and during royal visits is investigated, again using much primary evidence that has been largely neglected before now. It is shown that state apartments in country houses were the focus for elaborate ceremonial, and that they were used for the reception and accommodation of various honoured guests, not just members of the royal family. In the last two chapters of the thesis, the planning, decoration and furnishing of the country house state apartment is considered. It is argued that arrangements developed significantly between the Henrician and Jacobean periods, the state suite evolving from a comparatively simple (and sometimes haphazard) collection of spaces to a cohesively planned and integrated suite – a true apartment. This argument is based on the detailed analysis of 29 sixteenth-century houses (including Thornbury Castle, Theobalds and Hardwick Hall) and 9 houses of the Jacobean period (including Audley End, Hatfield House and Bramshill). Such a study clearly demonstrates that state apartments were undoubtedly the best rooms in a country house, and were used to reflect and further an owner’s status and prestige.


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  • doctoral

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  • eng


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