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Materialising cultural value in the English lakes, 1735-1845: a study of the responses of new landowners to representations of place and people

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Derek Denman
Publication date2011
Number of pages339
Awarding Institution
Award date30/09/2011
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis explores responses to the cultural construction in the developing
identity of the English Lakes from 1735 to 1845, through studies of three
landowners. The principal focus is Derwentwater. The Greenwich Hospital held
estates from 1735 to 1832, Lord William Gordon from 1781 to 1823, and John
Marshall of Leeds, the flax spinner, from 1810 and 1845.
The study classifies the identity of the English Lakes and its inhabitants with
Regions of Romance, as a territory increasingly occupied by the romantic
antithesis of the dominant thesis within the modern age. The cultural identity of
the English Lakes is considered as a construction of Throsby’s cultural values,
established through discourse and overlaid upon economic values. This
anthropological approach to culture recognises both aesthetic and social cultural
assets. The acquisition, management and disposal of landowners estates are
examined to evidence the materialisation of cultural values, whether through the
agency of discourse, the influence of others, or personal experience.
During the eighteenth century the Hospital responded to criticism minimally,
by planting the Derwentwater shore. Lord William Gordon responded strongly to
discourse by creating a picturesque park which demonstrated his taste and values,
and by completing the picturesque occupation of Derwentwater by 1787.
Wordsworth influenced the choice and management of John Marshall’s extensive
estates from 1811, providing an early materialisation of the principles in
Wordsworth’s Guide. In the early nineteenth century the Hospital protected their
Keswick woods, before selling the estate in 1832 at auction to John Marshall at a
low price.
The study demonstrates a significant and growing intervention by these
landowners to materialise aesthetic cultural value, but with little response to social
cultural values, though cultural landscape was preserved. An early private path of
intervention in the English Lakes is demonstrated, which feeds into the later and
better known public path.