Mansfield Park, Northamptonshire

Cottesbrooke Hall, Northamptonshire
Creative Commons AttributionCottesbrooke Hall, Northamptonshire - Credit: Mick

 

Cranford Hall, Northamptonshire (early Georgian)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCranford Hall, Northamptonshire (early Georgian) - Credit: Richard Croft

Mansfield Park is an 18th century English country house located in Northamptonshire.  It is said by some to be based on the real Cottesbrooke Hall, although this is disputed.

During the earlier part of the Georgian period (between 1740 and 1800), various architectural styles were in vogue, including the Palladian style and the Neoclassical style. Examples of houses built in these styles are Holkham Hall in Norfolk, Clandon Park in Surrey,  Syon House in Middlesex and Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire.

These are particularly grand examples, and Jane Austen probably had a slightly less majestic house in mind when she created the fictional Mansfield Park.

 

 

 

 

 

Sharrow Hall, Ripon (18th century)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSharrow Hall, Ripon (18th century) - Credit: David Rogers
Portsmouth, Hampshire

Portsmouth Harbour c.1829
Public DomainPortsmouth Harbour c.1829 - Credit: Edward William Cooke

Portsmouth is situated on the coast of Hampshire, in southern England. Dating back to the 12th century, it has always had strong naval connections. 

The naval dockyard was founded by Henry VII towards the end of the 15th century. During the 16th century, Portsmouth became home to the Royal Navy.  Over time it was fortified, and by Jane Austen's period it was a walled town with a resident garrison.

The town has strong connections with Admiral Lord Nelson, whose flagship HMS Victory sailed from Portsmouth for the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. He is commemorated by a monument on Grand Parade.

 

Monument of Lord Nelson, Portsmouth
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMonument of Lord Nelson, Portsmouth - Credit: Keith Pitchforth

 

 

 

 

 

 

HMS Victory, photographed ca. 1900
Public DomainHMS Victory, photographed ca. 1900 - Credit: unknown
Early 19th century England
King George III
Public DomainKing George III - Credit: Johann Zoffany
The Prince Regent (1822)
Public DomainThe Prince Regent (1822) - Credit: Sir Thomas Lawrence

 Although there is some uncertainty as to the exact period in which Mansfield Park is set, it is generally thought to be some time between 1803 and 1813, when King George III (1738-1820) was on the throne. The period includes two years of the Regency era (1811-1820) when George III's son, the Prince of Wales  (later George IV), ruled as Prince Regent on behalf of his father, who was considered unfit to rule due to mental illness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'The Battle of Trafalgar' (painted, 1822-1824)
Public Domain'The Battle of Trafalgar' (painted, 1822-1824) - Credit: J.M.W. Turner

Between 1792 and 1815, Britain was continuously at war with France, first in the French Revolutionary Wars and subsequently in the Napoleonic Wars. One of the most significant events of the Napoleonic Wars occurred in 1805, when the Royal Navy, under the command of Admiral Lord Nelson, defeated the combined French and Spanish navies at the Battle of Trafalgar.

During the first decade of the 19th century, slave trading was made illegal in the British Empire (following the Slave Trade Act of 1807), although slavery itself was not banned until the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.

 

Poster for a slave auction (British Colony of St. Helena)
Public DomainPoster for a slave auction (British Colony of St. Helena) - Credit: John Addison