tue09aug6:30 pmFeaturedOnline Lecture: The Country Gentry and the Country Town c.1680-1830: politics, leisure and patronageOnline talk by Sue Berry6:30 pm Book Now

Event Details

£5 members/£7 non-members

In this talk, the political, social and economic impacts of the gentry and aristocracy on provincial towns which elected MPs is explored.

From the late 1660s, many provincial towns with the right to elect MPs became a battleground between the Whigs and the Tories – the two developing political groups. Politically active local landowners targeted their expenditure in them to influence the towns’ small electorates. They also bought property in towns in which they housed supported of their party, and invested in leisure facilities such as horse racing, a very costly sport which attracted fellow landowners and others from farther afield, aiding networking. Because elections were public, the voters could not conceal their choice. The Secret Ballot was instituted from 1872. Until then, everyone knew who was eligible to vote and how they voted.

Lewes in East Sussex will be used as a case study to illustrate just how much time and resources politically active landowners could devote to securing their favoured parliamentary candidate although other towns will be referred to.  Lewes craftsmen worked on the houses, landscape follies, and churches controlled by landowners. Suppliers of goods of all types, craftsmen, and leisure developments such as races, inns, assembly rooms, theatre, and pleasure gardens all benefitted from the patronage of country landowners.

Politics in some towns such as Lewes became so rancorous at times that the leaders of the two parties – the Whigs and the Tories had to make peace to prevent disruption of the social events which were so important to the town’s economy because they brought customers into Lewes for other services.

Sue Berry is very interested in the influences on the development of seaside resorts and market towns between about 1740 and 1830.  Sue has published articles about Brighton’s growth as a seaside resort in the Journal of the Georgian Group and in the Collections of the Sussex Archaeological Society.  Many are now available on line via the websites of the respective organisations.  She is currently finishing an article about a group of Georgian resorts, and her next article will be about the market towns of Lewes, Horsham and Chichester.

The talks starts at 6.30pm. Joining details will be sent to attendees the day before.

Georgian Group members are eligible for a discount on their ticket by entering GGMEMBER at the checkout.

***This talk will be recorded. The recording will be available to all those who have purchased a ticket for a limited period of time after the event takes place***

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(Tuesday) 6:30 pm

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