How Georgian is the Georgian house
The Georgian House is situated in a very popular area for the Georgian period. Before living at the Georgian House Pinney lived at No. 5 Park Street but he was “a renter- not a purchaser of the house” (‘Bristol a Gateway to Empire’ C M McInnes 1939). This quote tells us that Pinney was dissatisfied with this house and I think this was the typical attitude of the residents and merchants living in Queens Square. People wanted moved to more expensive areas like George Street and Park Street.
The story “A respectable trade” (Phillipa Gregory) portrays how “the astute men were buying up land all around Great George Street and on either side of Park Street”. Though this is a secondary source and has been glamourized as it’s a novel it supports that “Queen Square was falling from fashion”. Therefore The Georgian House is situated in a typical Georgian area. If you look at the original houses on 29 Queen’s Square you see the foundations have are old, slanted and some of the bricks have weathered away. However you don’t see this on the Georgian house, the brick work looks ‘neat’ and fairly new.
This could be as this is an attraction for the public therefore they have made it more attractive furthermore advertised the house on the net (http://www. bristol-city. gov. uk/mus/georg. html) and arranged events such as ‘living history days’. As well as this they need to ensure public safety Nevertheless, I think it is a good reconstruction on the outside with typical elements. It has a triangular roof which is one triangle rather than two. The windows are sash, tall and create an optical illusion. The windows gradually get smaller, in effect the house looks bigger and the resident’s wealthier (tax).
The brickwork of the first 1/3 of the house was vermiculated and the rest smooth. This is good as some reconstructions don’t have a third of the front vermiculated such as the tax house on Queens Square. The door has tuscan pilasters, a fanlight and round pediment but I think the door has been replaced or varnished as it looks very new. Information books also give similar characteristics of the outside to that of the Georgian House. Though, they are secondary sources they were designed to be informative and therefore not biased. The diagram shows the 5 floors that the Georgian House does.
From the outside you can just about see the dorma which was the servant’s room which is disguised and kept separate to the rest of the house. However, in the Georgian House “beyond the stairs is a cold water plunge bath, an unusual feature in a town house”. This may be because Pinney had liked the country so he had “house as well, at Racedown in Somerset. ” He may have incorporated features of country houses such as the plunge bath. The diagram of a Georgian house in the “History of Britain” (information book) hasn’t got a plunge bath either.
I’ve decided to analyze two rooms in the house to each other and then see how Georgian they are: these are the breakfast room and the kitchen. The breakfast room displays how Pinney’s house was used largely for business purposes. Therefore, as their were many merchants living around Bristol it may have been common that homes were also used as business places Pinney decided to “build one for himself” (‘Bristol a Gateway to Empire’ C M McInnes 1939) and The Georgian House was specifically designed for “a West India merchant and plantation owner, by leading architect William Paty” (The Georgian House A Brief tour).
If he was a leading architect of the time then perhaps he designed many other Georgian houses and gave them all certain aspects. Also, to me the breakfast room didn’t seem like a family room. There are paintings such as “Hotwells and Rownham Ferry” and of “Richard Tomb” who was a Bristol shipbuilder and obviously Pinney was interested in ships being a merchant. Furthermore, from “Chilcott’s Map of Hotwells” (1849) we see in Georgian period the only way you could cross the River Avon was using these ferries.
Therefore, even if these pictures were not originally in Pinney’s house they are relevant to the Georgian period. Both the kitchen and breakfast room displays typical aspects of Georgian homes. A good source in the breakfast room which show’s the house is Georgian is the newspaper “Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal” on the table, in the breakfast room which is dated 1797. This was a local newspaper in the eighteenth century owned by local Bristol Journal journalist and businessman.
Even in modern day People enjoy reading the newspaper during breakfast so I think it’s a well placed item. As well as this there is a porcelain vase in the breakfast room, however in one documentation it says this is from “Pinney’s Chinese Porcelain Service” (Brief Tour) whereas the other it is said to be “Japanese Imari Ware (Item List of Breakfast room) which dates from the 1900. If it is the Chinese porcelain then I think it is a good item to have in the house as “Chinese fashions” were popular as suggested by the “A respectable trade” novel based on the 1800.
An aspect of a Georgian house which is portrayed is how it was common fashion to make this look bigger such as the optical illusion created by all the houses down George Street etc. The two rooms seemed spacious “light and airy” because the house was on a “steep hill” and the light entered the windows but I don’t think the kitchen would be seem as spacious with servant activity. Servants were very common in Georgian households as they were needed to do daily work. A kitchen maid helped the cook, while a chamber maid cleaned rooms and footmen did heavier jobs.
In the kitchen there are speaking tubes and bells which were used to summon the servants’ from various rooms such as the dining room which also had a lever to ring the bell. The servants would have played an active role such as those drawn in the “History of Britain” all day especially in rooms for eating such as dining. For example, the lady at the Georgian house told us that before desert the table cloth would be removed. However, normally, the servants would interact with the upper-class as less as possible and you wouldn’t see them walking through the rooms.
Therefore, the blocked off door in the eating room, I think it was originally a door for the servants and the layout has been changed because now as you enter the house it’s very open and if this was the layout then, the servants would be viewable crossing the rooms. Further evidence tells us that the layout has been changed as the “study was originally separate from the hall. ” There is also a butlers lift which was used by the servants. Servants were expected to do the work as in the Georgian house women were ladies of leisure.
A source which suggests this is the novel a “Respectable Trade” where ‘Josiah’s’ his new house must satisfy his wife. Though this is non-fictional, evidence such as the de-counter, games and Adam styled upholstered settees are all leisurely items which supports the status of women. Furthermore, judging by the furniture of the breakfast room the Georgian house has achieved to use furniture styles which were popular in the Georgian period despite the bureau book case being the only original furniture of the house.
From the photo you can see Adam style chairs which were the typical Georgian style and I can support this with an information sheet on Georgian furniture. Adam style chairs were furniture designed by Robert Adam. The furniture had legs which got smaller towards the end; oval shaped backs, and made of mahogany. “The most important departure in early Georgian days came through the introduction of mahogany, said to have been known to some extent at an earlier period, but not used in England until that time.
Mahogany, which grows in many parts of Central America, Cuba, Honduras, and the Bahamas, varying in quality and in marking, was put to practical purposes between 1715 and 1720, but at the latter date its use was fairly general. ” Everywhere in the Georgian house there is mahogany such as the “handsome mahogany urn” in the breakfast room and this source taken from a website (Old and Sold Antiques Auction and Marketplace) tells us that it was very popular, mainly due to it being imported through the slave trade. However as the information is website information, it could be unreliable as we don’t no who wrote it or when.
On the other hand I think it’s true and the desk in the hall which is from Nevis tells us that the mahogany is from Nevis too. Not all the furniture is mahogany such as the pine table in the Georgian House I don’t think this item is misplaced as it highlights the inequality between the servants and the residents of the house. Furthermore, Georgians used to like to show-off there wealth e. g. through windows so sometimes more expensive means of wood and craftsmen were used “for fashionable items such as guilt mirrors and window curtains to patronize the more expensive London tradesmen” (A brief Tour).
An example of this is the convex mirror in the breakfast room made from guilt wood. However, some of the items in the Georgian House are mis- placed and aren’t very Georgian for example the rug. Georgian rugs are normally a dark green colour like the green “brussel star carpet” Pinney ordered. It was 9p per yard which was quite expensive as it was best to have that colour and type of carpet. The carpet in the room has a ‘hand-knotted wool pile’ from Afghanistan, which isn’t a typical style but may have been popular in the later Georgian period because the carpet dates 1900.
Also, there is a cut glass honey pot in the breakfast room. It looked odd on display because the other items had a curvy design whereas the honey pot had a straight cut design on it; also it dates 1825 which is quite late into the Georgian period. The cutlery on display isn’t very detailed like the Georgian cutlery below and furthermore I don’t think they are of the Georgian period as downstairs there was glass cabinet with cutlery on display and it had a more detailed design. These items tell us that the Georgian house is a good replica being a public museum but there are some aspects which don’t entirely fit with the time.
I think the items in the kitchen were correctly placed but in my opinion I don’t think the correct atmosphere was created in the kitchen. However I think it’s a more realistic reconstruction to Combe Country House which is a Georgian holiday place. It’s more decorated and too busy. Its ambience is described as “warm, intimate and relaxed – perfect for a get together with friends and family. The kitchen wasn’t for the family it was for the servants/cook to prepare food not for comfort. Other rooms such as the dining room and eating room are for the family and it’s more decorated than the kitchen.
This is because it was the servants who worked there. Furthermore from the picture you can see that the fire-place is a dominant feature in the kitchen. In Georgian days the fire would be lit day and night and coal would be used to emphasize their wealth. So, the kitchen was probably smoky and dirty whereas now the utensils etc. are displayed neatly in cabinets and have all been polished. Furthermore though the utensils look like that of the Georgian period a member of staff said some of the items were Victorian but I don’t think this makes the house less Georgian because the difference is not noticeable.
Both the kitchen and the breakfast room display typical Georgian food. The larder is full of foods such as spices, orange, lemons, apricots etc. and oysters which were cheap at during Georgian times. I think eggs were common in Georgian dishes as eggs were display both in the breakfast room and kitchen. Also there is a lot of moulds for deserts such as blancmanges which required eggs. As well as this, products from the West Indies were available through the slave trade so houses had exotic foreign products like the sugar cane in the kitchen and chocolate, which they used to make hot chocolate in a “hot chocolate pot.
Frys became famous from selling chocolate. Another, example of how the Georgian house follows Georgian styles is the use of colour. Green was a popular colour in Georgian times e. g. green carpet. Many of the rooms were painted green apart not including the breakfast room. Another source tells me that Pinney painted it green as he urgently needed the room but he told the company to replace the grey with the “green ordered” which was of better quality. Therefore, this tells me that the Georgian House is a good replica because they must have researched on how Pinney did his house.
Therefore I think The Georgian House has achieved in being a Georgian House. It has incorporated styles of the Georgian period including, where it is situated, its outside appearance, colours, designs, servants, food, and furniture etc. despite some of the items of the house not being from the Georgian house. Furthermore, certain things have been changed such as the layout for practicality. Nevertheless, the purpose of the Georgian House is to portray Georgian life therefore it is a popular public museum which is successful considering the majority of items have been donations.
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