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Aristocratic Women and Political Society in Victorian Britain$
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K. D. Reynolds

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207276

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207276.001.0001

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‘The Lady at their Head’: Women and the Landed Estates

‘The Lady at their Head’: Women and the Landed Estates

(p.26) 1 ‘The Lady at their Head’: Women and the Landed Estates
Aristocratic Women and Political Society in Victorian Britain

K. D. Reynolds

Oxford University Press

For aristocratic women, the meanings of home and family were radically different from the middle-class ideal. There is a great contrast between the actual experiences of aristocratic women in the field of domestic and estate management and the model of ideal womanhood promoted around ideas of the home. Households, estates, and their attendant business, occupied most aristocratic women in great measure. Providing the physical and territorial basis of aristocratic authority, maintaining ties of dependency and patronage, and creating the economic security which underpinned the edifice of aristocratic culture, the great houses and estates were much more than homes. The women who ran them were much more than glorified housekeepers. Their contributions to the management of estates were rarely strategic, but were in the less easily quantifiable realm of daily observation and supervision.

Keywords:   household, estate management, industry, home, family

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