The Country House Poem and the Localization of Empire

  • John M. Adrian
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


As we have seen, the Memoirs portrays the Hutchinson estate at Owthorpe as not just a home, but a local sphere of operation that is serviceable to many of the same goals that motivated the Colonel’s earlier defense of his city and county. While in retirement at Owthorpe in the 1650s, John Hutchinson is able to execute the laws, administer justice, and maintain an ‘orderly regulation of the people’ in the surrounding neighborhood. This is typical of the estate’s role in the early modern period, for it was not just a private dwelling, but the center of its local neighborhood. Since it was inhabited by the ruling gentry, it functioned as political seat, administrative hub, and occasionally even religious center.1 The estate was also an important site of social relations, where hospitality was dispensed, marriage matches made, and disputes settled. Perhaps the reason that Saxton and Speed include so many minor estates on their maps is not just to assert gentry ownership of the land, but because these estates were also important landmarks that defined their areas of the county.


Seventeenth Century Local Space Foreign Object Social Harmony Landscape Painting 
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  1. 2.
    See, for example, William A. McClung, The Country House in English Renaissance Poetry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), 28–45, 123–131; Malcolm Kelsall, The Great Good Place: The Country House and English Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 32–48; James Turner, The Politics of Landscape: Rural Scenery and Society in English Poetry, 1630–1660 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979), 142–146; and Kari Boyd McBride, Country House Discourse in Early Modern England (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 2001).Google Scholar
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© John M. Adrian 2011

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