The seventeenth century witnessed a radical and far-reaching transformation in English architecture, as new and purer forms of classical design became firmly established, sweeping away earlier fashions. How this dramatic change came about at local level has never been fully understood. Using Hertfordshire as a case-study, this ground-breaking, interdisciplinary book reconstructs the complete built landscape-not just houses but churches, momnnuments, and almshouses-to reveal a competitive and visually sensitive environment in which people at all social levels exploited architectural display to enhance their personal image. New fashions were an important weapon in this struggle. Because only the county elite possessed the necessary contacts and resources to obtain the latest classical designs, such patterns became badges of status, symbols not just of cultural aspirations but of social ambition. Paul Hunneyball demonstrates that classical architecture caught on at local level less because it was aesthetically superior than because its advocates were socially superior.
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