In the century after the Restoration of 1660, English provincial towns experienced a cultural renaissance. This penetrating study examines the economic and social origins which stimulated the most striking features of that revival: the transformation of the urban landscape under the influence of classical architecture and the emergent forces of planning; and the remarkable expansion in the provision of public leisure. Concentrating on the
interaction between urban culture and society as a whole, Peter Borsay draws on a wide range of disciplines, shedding new light not only on the development of the early modern town, but also on the
relatively neglected period of English history between the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. Reference material is included, in a detailed town-by-town appendix.
`stylish scholarly, and readable book' Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
`excellent ... an exciting and imaginative book, which does a marvellous job of welding social and architectural history.' Times Higher Education Supplement
`Borsay's lucid and stimulating book makes a major contribution ... Borsay has written a book which deserves a wide readership.' Robin Pearson, University of Hull, Business History, Vol 32 No 3 July 1990
`a book which is both an education and a delight ... This is a deeply learned, splendidly argued, beautifully written and wonderfully stimulating volume. It is unquestionably one of the best urban studies we have had for many a long day.' Angus McInnes, University of Keele, History, No.245, Oct 1990
`a cogent, not to say compelling, thesis ... will certainly stimulate debate ... More than that, it is a book to be recommended to a wide readership. There is a mine of information on provincial towns, information which will be of especial value to schoolteachers engaged on project work for GCSE and to local historians.' J.L. Bolton, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, Economic History Review, Volume XLIV, No.1 February
`The essential argument of this wide-ranging, perceptive, well-informed and entertaining (yes, entertaining) book is that "in the century after the Restoration of 1660, English provincial towns experienced a cultural renaissance". To this revival Peter Borsay offers a detailed guide ... The classified information about townscapes and amenities listed in Dr Borsay's town-by-town appendix, and the discussions and questions clearly set out in the three main
sections of his book - landscape, leisure, society - provide an invaluable framework and stimulus for future work, not just on individual English towns but on those of Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well.'
Literature and History
`a substantial and important contribution ... a fascinating, imaginative and significant monograph which deserves to be read by every student of late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English history. The extent of his research into the available sources is most impressive; the bibliography alone is likely to prove a boon to other historians. The author's argument is generally sharply focused and clearly structured, and it is presented in precise and
fluent prose. This handsomely produced book is, in fact, a model of how to organize a mass of varied data into a coherent whole.' H.T. Dickinson, University of Edinburgh, Social History, Vol. 16, No.1, January
`a work which should be studied and digested by all interested in urban history' Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, 25, 1990
`The century after the Restoration saw the evolution of the sort of town we recognise today, a self-sufficient unity rather than a focus for a rural community. Borsay traces their development with an eye for fascinating detail.' The Observer
List of tables; list of maps; list of plates; list of abbreviations; acknowledgements; preface; PART 1: Introduction; the urban scene; PART 2: Landscape: the house, street and square; prospects, planning, and public buildings; PART 3: Leisure: the arts; arenas of display; sport; PART 4: Society: the economic foundations; the pursuit of status; civility and sociability; cultural differentiation; PART 5: Conclusion: town and nation; Appendices