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How helpful is Wimpole Hall as a source in helping us understand the religious and social attitudes of the rich and poor in the 18th and 19th centuries?

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Introduction

How helpful is Wimpole Hall as a source in helping us understand the religious and social attitudes of the rich and poor in the 18th and 19th centuries? Nicola Kelly 10V1 How helpful is Wimpole Hall as a source in helping us understand the religious and social attitudes of the rich and poor in the 18th and 19th centuries? Wimpole Hall is a stately home built near Cambridge by Sir Thomas Chicheley in 1640. It has been owned by some of the most powerful families in England. Royal visitors such as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Albert have stayed at the house. A full team of servants would have always run a stately home such as Wimpole, from the highest butler status to the lowest maid. There is not much evidence to suggest the social and religious attitudes of the poor, mainly due to the fact that they were not considered worthy of attention by anyone, except someone from their own social class. A few sources that give an insight into the attitudes of the poor were the rules that they were made to follow, and a section of a diary written by Queen Victoria's maid of honour. We can derive clues about the social attitudes of the rich simply by studying where Wimpole Hall was built. ...read more.

Middle

However, there is no clear evidence suggesting how often the owners socialized with guests, when this took place, who they entertained, whether women were allowed to attend, and if they enjoyed it. Wimpole Hall lacks so many key features, and as a source it is very weak in parts. Inside Wimpole, all rooms are heavily decorated with fine materials like silk; the walls are covered with portraits surrounded by large gold frames and mirrors. The yellow room is the most well known room of the house. It was used purely for entertaining guests, each item of furniture was made to fit the room exactly and the painting of cherubs on the ceiling is extravagant. It gives a religious and wealthy appearance. Not all items in the house are as they were made to appear. In the foyer of Wimpole there are two large marble-looking pillars, to the eye they appear to be marble, but when knocked they are hollow. A grand library was built into the house to give a well-educated appearance. In contrast to this lifestyle, the poor were hidden away in basic living conditions. Many servants' quarters were above the horse stalls in the stable block. When comparing the two, the stalls were more airy and larger than the rooms, suggesting that the owners cared more for their animals. ...read more.

Conclusion

Conclusion The house is a fairly useful source in giving an insight into the social and religious attitudes of the rich and poor but it has many limitations. Due to the number of owners that have altered the house, it may not be so reliable. Another important factor to take into consideration is that Wimpole is the only house being studied; it may not be a typical stately home for that period. We cannot prove the religious and social attitudes of the rich and poor in general by studying one home. There are certain topics that are covered well by an examination of the house and the surrounding grounds. We can learn many things about the religious and social attitudes of the rich from the many examples. However, there is little evidence of the attitudes of the poor and this makes Wimpole a limited source unless you were just studying the wealthy owners. In comparison to other sources Wimpole would not give a clear picture and at times it is even misleading. However, without Wimpole the other sources do not give a full picture either. A visit to Wimpole brings to life the evidence given in papers and diaries; you get a feel of the atmosphere and can see things for yourself. Together they help us understand the religious and social attitudes of the rich and poor in the 18th and 19th centuries. ...read more.

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