Researching Cottage Communities


The Partner

A La Ronde is a unique 16-sided house, part of the National Trust. Home for two wealthy, unmarried cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter, as with other examples of the cottage ornee tradition, A la Ronde may also have been a form of intellectual retreat. In some part perhaps a benevolent venture and maybe a place founded with a religious sense of purpose. It is unusual in combining these meanings of the late 18C cottage and in realising them in close proximity to one another.


Research lead

Emma Stanbridge – PhD Candidate in English Literature, Keele University.


The Project 

This research will explore the concept of ‘cottage communities’ in the late Georgian period, and will specifically test whether such a concept, based on religious and female networks, was a reality, an ideological concept or a recognisable literary device. There is limited surviving archival material (such as letters) that might reveal clues as to the influences on the creation of A la Ronde and its surrounding community by the Parminters. This project takes an alternative approach to investigating the influences on such ideologies at A la Ronde, by drawing connections between the community the Parminters sought to establish within wider contexts of benevolent female circles and religious networks in the period, which could be literary or a lived reality. The project will not only contribute to the establishing of an active research environment at A la Ronde by providing starting points for future research at the property, but will also support the generation of content for their public programme.

In progress – September-December 2022.