Megan Leyland

Gender, Patronage and Architecture in the Nineteenth-Century Country House

My PhD offers an original analysis of the architectural development of the 19th century Country House through focussing upon the importance of gender roles and relations in the complex history of alterations. I offer a reconsideration of traditional assumptions concerning the gendering of patronage, architectural design and management  of the Country House as well as looking in detail at a period of Country House alteration which architectural history appears to have forgotten.

Whilst considerations of style have, to a limited extent, been addressed, the role of the patron and of women in particular in determining the form of country houses has been passed over. The patronage, design, and construction of a country house was a collaborative process. It was the consequence of a series of decisions and conversations. Constant negotiation and renegotiation of relationships between architect and patrons, and, when the patrons were married, husband and wife, resulted in redesigns and compromises.

My research also emphasies that architectural patronage was not limited to the country house: discussion should include those buildings beyond the country house, but still subject to the patronage of the country house owner, including churches, cottages and philanthropic institutions. This is particularly significant as the impact of the ‘lady of the house’ was more often than not clearly in evidence in the commissioning and design of such buildings. Overall my research has revealed the complexity of these design processes in a network of Northamptonshire country houses including, among others, Lamport Hall, Overstone Hall, Fawsley Hall and Haselbech Hall. This PhD is an AHRC collaborative doctoral award with Lamport Hall.

Other Research Interests

I have become increasingly interested in historic landscape studies and its contribution to understanding the British country house. Beyond my country house focus, I am highly interested in the architecture of the Medieval Iberian Peninsula, The Great Exhibition of 1851, and nineteenth-century British food culture.

Lamport Hall leyland550.jpg
Lamport Hall (photo: Megan Leyland)

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