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Structure, function and meaning

The British Empire contributed greatly to the globalising of western buildings, towns and cities across the world. The requirements of security necessitated the construction of forts and barracks everywhere, while the need for mobility and ceremonial led to the use of large numbers of tents. As towns and cities developed, building types required for imperial rule, the operations of colonial economies and the comfort and cultural edification of Europeans appeared everywhere. These included government houses, town halls, courthouses, assembly and parliament buildings, company headquarters, customs houses and hotels. As the white bourgeoisie became a major global class, their representative buildings, such as clubs, libraries, museums, theatres, religious institutions, mission stations and schools, also spread worldwide. Some of these were designed for the dissemination of European culture to indigenous peoples, as well as the proselytisation of Christianity. Imperial rulers, their officials and troops additionally required particular settlements for leisure, recreation and the restoration of health, and these included hill stations in many colonies. The new technologies of the age, such as the telegraph and railways, also generated significant structures, widely dispersed. In addition to the great public and civic buildings, residential accommodation was created for Europeans, servants and workers. The result was a striking built environment which offers many insights into the nature, character and social and economic development of imperial rule, not least in the patterns of racial and class inclusion and exclusion which such buildings represented. It is an environment which remains key to the understanding of the modern world, and one which has survived, often through the modern fascination with ‘heritage’ as well as through its incorporation into new postcolonial arrangements.

The 'Indian Room' label from Osterley's bell-pull system illustrates the economic and cultural aspects of the relationship between country houses and the British Empire. This book is a study of that relationship, of the ways in which country houses like Osterley served as venues for the expression of personal and national imperial engagement between 1700 and 1930. A rare scholarly analysis of the history of country houses that goes beyond an architectural or biographical study, and recognises their importance as the physical embodiments of imperial wealth and reflectors of imperial cultural influences, is presented. The book assesses the economic and cultural links between country houses and the Empire. In terms of imperial values, country houses expressed both the economic and cultural impact of empire. Carr and Gladstone were only two of the many examples of colonial merchants who turned landed magnates. Nabobs - men who made their fortunes either as employees of the East India Company or as 'free traders' in India - were willing to risk their lives in pursuit of wealth. Like nabobs, planters went to the colonies in search of wealth and were prepared to spend substantial time there in order to accumulate it. Military and naval were among categories of people who purchased landed estates with imperial wealth. The book identifies four discourses of empire - commodities, cosmopolitanism, conquest and collecting - that provided the basic categories in which empire was represented in country-house context.

Editor: Jason Peacey

This collection of essays reappraises the origins and nature of the first British empire. Produced in the wake of protracted and sometimes divisive debates about how best to approach this topic, methodologically and thematically, and in the wake of the so-called ‘cultural turn’, it offers new perspectives and approaches, from some of the most important scholars working in the field, both senior and junior. This is not a matter of returning to older modes of scholarship but rather of learning from the ‘new imperial history’ while also re-integrating political and institutional perspectives. It is not a matter of turning from the experience of empire on the periphery to the study of the ‘official’ mind of empire, but rather of exploring contemporary debates, both within the metropole and across the empire, and how these impacted upon imperial ‘policy’ and its implementation, not least in the face of fairly profound challenges on the ground. These debates ranged widely, and were political and intellectual as well as religious and administrative, and they related to ideas about political economy, about legal geography and about sovereignty, as well as about the messy realities of the imperial project, including the costs and losses of empire, collectively and individually. This book will be of interest to historians and political scientists working in a range of different areas, far beyond merely scholars of empire, and its novel approaches and provocative arguments will help to shape the field on this most important of topics.

Ashley Jackson

, posters, food packaging, advertisements, matchboxes and labels. Their power lay in the fact that they were frequently encountered in the quotidian experience of people of every age and of all classes. In a volume devoted to examples of the exhibition of the British Empire, this chapter seeks to achieve a number of things and to develop a niche in the ever-expanding literature relating to

in Exhibiting the empire
Empire, Nation Redux
Mrinalini Sinha

hermetic separation between empire and nation as well as the unidirectional understanding – from metropole to colony -that had underpinned much British-empire historiography. 4 Yet a more concerted exploration of these insights – and the concomitant expansion of British imperial historiography to take seriously questions of culture – had to await the launching of the Studies in Imperialism series. The tremendous

in Writing imperial histories
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John M. MacKenzie

, both in the metropolis and in the colonies, even if such resurgence is characterised by significant aspects of cultural hybridity. One of the most important expressions of such alleged cultural superiority lies in the built environment. Yet, in the many conventional histories of the British 1 The British Empire through buildings 1  Lovedale Mission Hospital, Eastern Cape, South Africa Empire, buildings and the built environment have received relatively little attention. On the other hand, historians of architecture and planning have devoted much research and many

in The British Empire through buildings
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Valletta, Rangoon and new capitals
John M. MacKenzie

occupying Napoleonic forces) in 1800. The first Commissioner, Alexander Ball (who returned in 1802 for a longer stint), was determined to transform the 227 The British Empire through buildings island through architecture, the development of gardens, scientific horticulture and the design values (including furniture) that he considered appropriate to what was to become a British Crown Colony.3 Malta was to some extent a special case (although there are parallels elsewhere in the empire), since it was in effect a fortress writ large. All building projects, particularly

in The British Empire through buildings
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‘Dominion over palm and pine’
W.J. Reader

can help the young mind to appreciate the value and might of the British Empire … must be for the benefit of posterity’, wrote a flamboyant naval hero, Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919), in 1908, recommending The Children’s Encyclopaedia . 1 In 1911 Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) and C. R. L. Fletcher (1857-1934), an opinionated Oxford don, collaborated in A School History of England. Kipling’s contribution was verse, mostly bad, though a reviewer in the Daily Express thought well of it and commented: ‘there

in 'At duty’s call'
Contexts and comparisons
Bronwen Walter

M&H 07_Tonra 01 08/04/2014 07:19 Page 133 7 Placing Irish women within and beyond the British Empire: contexts and comparisons Bronwen Walter Women have been leaving Ireland to settle abroad over many centuries. Although their scattering has been on a global scale, including locations both with substantial numbers and with small pockets, there has been a particular emphasis on the English-speaking world, shadowing the colonial enterprise of the larger neighbour, Britain. This chapter aims to explore different contexts in which settlement has taken place, both

in Women and Irish diaspora identities
Keith Jeffery

escape from Ireland’, continued Shaw, the Irishman ‘will go abroad to risk his life for France, for the Papal States, for secession in America, and even, if no better may be, for England.’ 1 If what Shaw asserts is true, then it might be supposed that the British Empire, with its world-wide opportunities for adventure, would have exercised an irresistible pull on restless young Irishmen. But Shaw

in ‘An Irish Empire’?