Dining Room

Objects In The Room

No. 1 for Kids
For Kids

The Dining Room

The Dining Room was a formal, masculine room used for entertaining guests. Sober in style, it was a symbol of the host’s status in society.

The English dined ‘a la francaise’, a style where numerous dishes were placed on the table at once and diners helped themselves to whatever was closest. Servants cleared plates but did not serve.

A matter of taste

Fashionable dining promoted a desire for elegant tableware and English porcelain factories flourished with the increased demand for consumer goods. A formal dining set would have cost £32 which is the equivalent of more than £2,000 today.

Importance of Dessert

Dessert was the high point of an elaborate Georgian dinner and gave the host an opportunity to display wealth through serving expensive sugary sweetmeats, syllabubs and creams, as well as elaborate sugar sculpture table decorations. At Christmas, the table is dressed for a festive Georgian feast, with sweet treats on display.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade and Sugar

Luxuries often featured on the Dining Room table came at a terrible human cost. As the British sweet tooth grew demand for sugar increased and the British transatlantic slave trade flourished. By the 1770’s the stolen labour of thousands of enslaved Africans was producing the 12lb per person of sugar consumed annually in Britain in rooms such as this one.

Objects In The Room

Self Portrait of Thomas Barker of Bath, By Thomas Barker. (1769 – 1847), c.1796

From a Welsh family, Barker moved to Bath in 1785. A prodigious Bath painter, he was particularly good at portraits and was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy. His work could command very high prices by the 1820s.

On loan from Tate Britain.

Portrait of Anne (née Waller), Lady Staplyton, Attributed to Andrea Soldi (1718-1791), c.1738

Anne Waller of Hall-Barn, Beaconsfield married Sir Miles Staplyton (1706 – 91) to become Lady Staplyton in 1738. Italian Artist Andra Soldi came to London in 1735 and was reasonably successful, but by the end of his life had to turn to the Royal Academy for financial charity.

On loan from the National Portrait Gallery

Portrait of Miss Evelyn of Godstone, By Allan Ramsay (1713-1784), 1742

Miss Evelyn is believed to have been related to diarist John Evelyn. The portrait is signed in the lower left-hand corner and dated 1742. Allan Ramsey was a Scottish portrait painter who moved to London in 1762 and was considered technically excellent. He was the Principal Painter in Ordinary to George III which meant he was the King’s painter, usually required to paint royal portraits.  He was also a noted abolitionist.

Fourfold Leather Screen, c.1770

This tooled and gilded English screen is decorated with country scenes in a French style. Its purpose is to screen off the commode (or chamber pot) and its user.  It was common for diners to leave the table and relieve themselves without leaving the room!