|Appears in Collections:||Literature and Languages Journal Articles|
|Peer Review Status:||Refereed|
|Title:||‘A Child of Strawberry’: Thomas Barrett and Lee Priory, Kent|
|Author(s):||Reeve, Matthew M|
|Citation:||Reeve MM & Lindfield P (2015) ‘A Child of Strawberry’: Thomas Barrett and Lee Priory, Kent, Burlington Magazine, 157 (1353), pp. 836-842.|
|Abstract:||First paragraph: WRITING IN JULY 1790, Horace Walpole famously recounted his impressions of Lee Priory in Kent (Fig.20), newly rebuilt for Thomas Barrett (1744–1803) by James Wyatt (1746–1813): ‘I found Mr Barrett’s house complete, and the most perfect thing ever formed! Such taste, every inch is so well furnished [. . .] I think if Strawberry [Hill] were not its parent, I would be jealous’. He regularly praised Lee in his letters and in print, elsewhere calling it his ‘Gothic child’. Walpole unapologetically positioned Lee as the offspring of Strawberry Hill (and thus of himself), a child of his famous Gothic villa in Twickenham. Flippant though Walpole’s perspective might seem, it reminds us that our understanding of the Gothic Revival via a positivist teleology of style, framed by Charles Locke Eastlake and others in the nineteenth century, had little meaning for Georgian audiences. From Walpole’s perspective, and to a large extent from Barrett’s, Lee Priory was understood to represent a second generation of Gothic houses following an original ‘family’ of Gothic buildings built by Walpole’s friends and designers between c.1740 and c.1775, including parts of The Vyne in Hampshire, Dickie Bateman’s villa at Old Windsor and Donnington Grove in Berkshire. Structuring this ‘familial’ relationship with the ‘children’ of Strawberry Hill, Walpole hung images or ‘portraits’ of these Gothic houses in his home, including a ‘View of Lee, the seat of T. Barrett, esq; in Kent, by Pether; in an ebony frame’. Recent scholarship has shown that this ‘family’ of patrons and designers was bound by common aesthetic and sexual (homoerotic) subjectivities. Art within Walpole’s circle, from the exchange of objects and images and their display, to the design and decoration of houses which often employed the same designers and was in their privileged Gothic (or ‘court’) style, formed what has been called a ‘Queer Family Romance’ within the patronage of Walpole’s clique.|
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