Is Britishness Always British? Country Houses, Travel and the Cosmopolitan Identity of the British Elite in the Eighteenth Century

  • Stephanie Barczewski
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


In 1922, Vita Sackville-West described Knole, the enormous house in Kent that had been in her family since 1580, as

above all an English house. It has the tone of England; it melts into the green of the garden turf, into the tawnier green of the park beyond, into the blue of the pale English sky; it settles down in its hollow amongst the cushioned tops of the trees; the brown-red of those roofs is the brown-red of the roofs of humble farms and pointed oast-houses, such as the stain over a wide landscape of England the quilt-like pattern of the fields.1

Much of what she wrote remains true today. Though only half an hour from central London by train, Knole still stands surrounded by 1,000 acres of park, where tame spotted deer beg for scraps of food from picnicking families. Virtually unaltered over the last 400 years, the house’s creaky rooms remain uncorrupted by the changing fashions that compelled many landowners to alter their houses to Palladian villas or neo-Gothic fantasy castles. Sackville-West was right: Knole radiates a rambling, informal style that is somehow the essence of Englishness.


Eighteenth Century Teenth Century East India Company Early Eighteenth Century Chinese Room 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Stephanie Barczewski 2013

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  • Stephanie Barczewski

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