Tue, 5 Jun 2001
The freedom to travel and explore Europe by embarking on the Grand Tour was seen as the preserve of wealthy gentlemen - it even became a kind of rite of passage for young men.
But some women - including Norfolk's Lady Mary Coke and Lady
Cholmondeley - defied 18th and 19th century social constraints to
own Grand Tours, as Dr Brian Dolan of UEA will reveal in an
illustrated talk next
Dr Dolan will give a talk based on his new book "Ladies of the
Grand Tour" at
the UEA Drama Studio on Thursday, June 14 at 6.30pm. Admission is free and
all are welcome. A drinks reception follows.
"We usually associate the Grand Tour with men, who were expected to
improve themselves through university education and continental travel, while
women were left to bible study and child rearing," explained Dr Dolan of the
Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine at UEA.
Critics of the time, uncomfortable with the idea of British gentlewomen
socialising in foreign society, portrayed women travellers in a harsh light.
One woman charged with bringing the national character into
disrepute - after
reportedly being arrested in Paris - was Lady Cholmondeley, whose
at Houghton Hall in North Norfolk.
"I will draw on the diaries, letters and journals of women
travellers to reveal
how they wanted to represent themselves not as disorderly rebels but as
travellers and travel writers," said Dr Dolan.
"Women travelled for a variety of reasons: some sought to escape their
husbands and make their own social rules abroad; others travelled for
or health reasons."
Lady Mary Coke was one of many women who escaped unhappy domestic
circumstances by seizing the opportunity to travel abroad.
As a 21-year-old newly-wed she was confined against her will by her husband
at the Norfolk Estate of his father, Thomas Coke, who constructed
After divorce she embarked on a number of Grand Tours to revitalise her life.
Further details on the lecture available from 01603 593576.