Furnishing Status



The legal battle over Bristol Customs official John Elbridge’s will opened with a contretemps about a small classical house and its furnishings.1 Despite an extraordinary inheritance of more than £10,000, Elbridge’s niece Rebecca Woolnough and her husband accused his executors of illicitly seeking to sell the possessions at Elbridge’s house, Cote. Although the executors offered to compensate Mrs Woolnough with furnishings from another house Elbridge owned near Bristol, she insisted there were ‘some few pieces of furniture’ that she was bent on having for herself. Appraisers drew up an inventory, which the Woolnoughs called ‘an Imperfect Schedule’ because it aggregated several of the best rooms rather than valuing individual objects. Although the household contents at Elbridge’s two dwellings were worth similar amounts — £290.8.10 and £303.12.8 respectively -the Woolnoughs insisted that ‘the furniture over the Down are of much greater Value’. Throughout the proceedings, Rebecca Woolnough displayed both emotional attachment to the goods at Cote house and a keen sense of their worth. In her desire to lay claim to ‘some few pieces of furniture’ she highlighted how individual pieces could be pivotal within the domestic setting. Such multi-layered reactions indicate how and in what ways objects displayed status for genteel people.


Eighteenth Century Furnishing Status Ground Floor Household Possession Domestic Space 
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Copyright information

© Stephen Hague 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rowan UniversityUSA

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