Inventories are central to our understanding of the changing contents and use of rooms. The names used to describe them give us clues about how they were conceived and who occupied them, but it is in the lists of furniture and other objects that we get a real insight into their actual use. Key items – a French bed, a sofa or a large dining table – defined the main function of a room and sometimes marked its status; the overall assemblage of smaller items tell us much about how they might have been lived in on a day-to-day basis. Of course, inventories cannot tell us about the actual layout of a room, how the objects were actually used or by whom, but they are much more than simple lists of objects. You can read more here about the use of inventories and what they tell us about a house, specifically Canons Ashby.
Available here are extracts from a series of inventories for two houses, Stola Herrgard in Sweden and Canons Ashby House in England. Reading them over time tells us much about how rooms in a single house changed and developed; reading them across the two houses shows differences between countries and cultures. We hope you find them as interesting and useful as we have in our research.