A Day at Home in Early Modern England Material Culture and Domestic Life, 1500-1700 Tara Hamling, Catherine Richardson

Publication date:
03 Oct 2017
Paul Mellon Centre
320 pages: 254 x 190mm
280 color illus.
Sales territories:

This fascinating book offers the first sustained investigation of the complex relationship between the middling sort and their domestic space in the tumultuous, rapidly changing culture of early modern England. Presented in an innovative and engaging narrative form that follows the pattern of a typical day from early morning through the middle of the night, A Day at Home in Early Modern England examines the profound influence that the domestic material environment had on structuring and expressing modes of thought and behaviour of relatively ordinary people. With a multidisciplinary approach that takes both extant objects and documentary sources into consideration, Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson recreate the layered complexity of lived household experience and explore how a family’s investment in rooms, decoration, possessions, and provisions served to define not only their status, but the social, commercial, and religious concerns that characterised their daily existence.   

Tara Hamling is senior lecturer in history at the University of Birmingham. Catherine Richardson is professor of early modern studies at the University of Kent.

“Genuinely learned, abounding in rich detail and acute insights”—Keith Thomas, LRB

"There can be few historians of early modern Britain who will not find material relevant to them here."—Donald Spaeth, Journal of British Studies

"All scholars interested in the history of domestic buildings, and early modern history more generally, will certainly want to take this book into account."—Victoria Yeoman, Journal of Social History

"The monograph successfully establishes the social significance of the household as a site for constructing and shaping early modern experiences and identities." – Sarah Fox, Reviews in History

"The link between visual and material objects and more conventional documentary sources makes this an exceptionally revealing book."—Susan D. Amussen, The English Historical Review

“This excellent book…offers valuable evidence on the meaningful uses of private space by a group often marginal to discussion of the social and economic changes of the period. The detail is in the tying together of the written sources and material objects which enhances interpretation, and, indeed, understanding of tasks and practices.”—Brenda Collins, Family and Community History

"Alert to nuances of gender and social position, Hamling and Richardson make many suggestive observations about the role of materiality in daily experience. In doing so, they bring together aspects of domestic life that have too often been isolated into distinct silos of scholarship."—Adrian Green, The Journal of the Social History Society

"Hamling, an art historian with interests in religious history, and Richardson, a literary and cultural historian, fruitfully combine their differing perspectives to offer a multi- and interdisciplinary exploration of the concept and context of the middling home. The result is a lively and multi-layered account of middling domesticity, which makes the case for a symbiotic relationship between the minutiae of domestic life and the wider power structures of early modern society...A Day at Home in Early Modern England could have easily slipped into description, yet the authors have crafted a work which is both rich in detail and analytical in its approach. The book’s 179 colour illustrations are also ideally positioned to bring the vibrancy and dynamism of middling domesticity to life."—Rachel M. Delman, Renaissance Studies

“Alert to nuances of gender and social position, Hamling and Richardson make many suggestive observations about the role of materiality in daily experience. In doing so, they bring together aspects of domestic life that have too often been isolated into distinct silos of scholarship.”—Adrian Green, Cultural and Social History [Journal]