First, I would like to discuss is the architecture of the eighteenth century of London and Edinburgh. The place in London I will refer to is Soane’s House, which was Sir John Soane’s personal home. He was a famous architect and was part of the Royal Academy, and he was most known for his work of the Bank of England. Sir John Soane was quit the collector. In his home he had so many elaborate paintings, figurines, statues, books, and other antiquities. What stood out to me the most was how many Greco-Roman antiquities he had acquired, and to no surprise his work in architecture was very much inspired by this culture. What really stuck out to me was this huge marble sculpture of Apollo Belvedere made in 1718. He had a cape draped over him, a leaf covering his penis, and his right hand on a tree stump. Unfortunately, we were not able to take pictures of our own, but I found this one on the internet that looks just like the one in Soane’s House. As you can see, it is very Greco-Roman as many other items in Sir John Soane’s collections were.
In Edinburgh, we visited Calton Hill that housed many monuments. One of them was the National Monument, also known as the Acropolis Monument, which was inspired by the Parthenon in Athens. Scotland of course would want to keep up with new looks that England was entering in. Oddly enough, this monument was never finished due to lack of funds and became a disgrace to Scotland. Both Sir John Soane’s architectural creations and the National Monument show how much the eighteenth century was inspired by the Greco-Roman era. It shows the movement into the Neoclassical Period. The architecture designs portray symmetry, organization, and order. The structures included the tall columns and altogether the look was very refined.
Secondly, I would like to discuss the middle and upper-class of the eighteenth century. The increase of trade allowed common people to be able to live more comfortably with luxuries that were never offered before. Items were being brought in by many different countries, new ideas were forming. This was the beginning of not only the Enlightenment Period, but the Commercial era as well. In London, we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum and they had a very nice display of the eighteenth century. In one particular room they did a depiction of how the inside of an entertaining room would have looked like from the era. It had beautiful crown molding, a gorgeous fireplace, and fancy furnishings. The ceiling was the best part though. It was elaborately decorated with intricate molding and paintings.
In Edinburgh, we visited two different wealthy homes. One of them was Gladstone’s Land. To me, it was so small and cramped together, but the antiquities in the home were only available to those with money. The ceiling in this home was also very elaborate. It had grapes and other fruit that people have never seen before. The home had furnishings that were quite expensive, and from overseas. I remember seeing a tiny mirror, but the tour guide told us that it still cost a lot of money and they were lucky to have a mirror that size. The Gladstone’s house did seem very small and confined to me, but we have to remember in Old Town Edinburgh they could not build out, they could only build up. One room had the bedroom, toilet (bowl), and was used to entertain company.The other place I want to talk about that we saw in Edinburgh is the Georgian House. This house was in the New Town were architects could design outward instead of just up. I was very surprised to see not only how large it was, but how many luxurious antiquities this home held. I felt like I was in a house fit for royalty. Each room had a separate purpose, and the butler had a pretty large room to himself. The room that stuck out most to me was the kitchen. It was so large and had so many useful items. It even had a bread oven! The dining room was used to eat and entertain, and was full of lavish dinnerware. I saw multiple large mirrors. The bedroom was separate and even had its own fireplace.
In the Defoe reading, merchants and tradesmen were able to work their way up to “nobility”. The examples I have given are not from people who were born into royalty or money. They traded and used materialistic items to become wealthier than a common man. This gave a new way to become a powerful Englishman, and also a way to enjoy luxuries. Many of the best families in England came from trade. It was a quick way for families to become wealthy, and also a way for England to thrive as a country. It also helps other countries because now people in are buying items that had never been available.
Needless to say, the study abroad trip to London and Edinburgh was amazing. I not only had a lot of fun, but i got to experience learning about the eighteenth century hands on. For me, it makes it so much more interesting and easier to learn. This will be an experience I will never forget!