The Inspection of the Curious”: The Country-House Guidebook c. 1750-1990

Paul Mellon Centre, London, 5 September 2016 – 6 January 2017

The fourth Drawing Room Display, curated by Jessica Feather (Brian Allen Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre) and Collections staff, takes material from the Centre’s considerable holdings of Country House guidebooks to focus on three early adopters of the guidebook: Knole (Kent); Blenheim Palace (Oxfordshire) and Burghley (Lincolnshire/Northamptonshire).

The British country-house guidebook is a very specific genre of travel guide, with particular characteristics which have, arguably, remained relatively unchanged from beginnings in the mid-eighteenth century until the present day. Generally small in size, lightweight and inexpensive, they were intended to be portable in order to be carried round the house whilst visiting. The history of the country-house guidebook relates closely to the practice of visiting country houses.

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