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Page history last edited by Anne.Berry@warwick.ac.uk 7 years, 11 months ago




The door is a very common item. One that everyone unavoidably uses everyday, which is true today and was equally true back in the 18th century. While doors carry plenty of associations that are anachronistic in nature, certain associations that different societies link to them change over time. Below are some examples of the kinds of associations linked to doors during the 18th century; some are similar to the kind we make today and others seem very clearly from another era. 


The social role of doors


Sign posts, business and social order


As a key element to the front of a property, a door plays an important social role, especially in the world of business, work and the local community. In 1695 a ‘land lottery’ was held (a lottery where ticket holders could win land. These were popular during the early 18th century and held as a form of raising money for charitable and not-so-charitable purposes) and a  hired room was advertised to arrange a place where ticket holders could go and discuss their complaints. Such lotteries were often rather shady enterprises and are described in a an anecdotal book of the manners and customs in 18th century London as being ‘pernicious’. The same lottery in the advertisement is mentioned in this book as being held by an esq, Sydenham and confirms that this very meeting was held by those who had not won anything to enter ‘into an investigation of their real or fancied wrongs’ following this lottery due to it being suspiciously difficult for the ticket holders to work out whether they had won anything. Each person admitted had to pay 6d (six pence or roughly two pounds in today’s money) on the door to the doorkeeper as they entered, demonstrating that doors, as entrance to property or spaces of any kind act as an important marker to indicate where something takes place, and subsequently aid in facilitating administrative matters such as paying for hired rooms. For the curious, the book also mentions that the ticket holders went on to exhibit ‘a Bill in Chancery against the unfortunate Squire’. 


Similarly, in many of the articles in the Old Bailey archive, executions were to be held ‘before the debtor’s door’, again using the door to specify a location for the purposes of communicating where to go for people who may wish to attend. An example of this can also be found in A Journal of the Plague Year with the phrase ‘there was no getting at the Lord-Mayor’s door without exceeding difficulty’ p.8 which refers to the many people trying to get certificates of health so that they could travel to other parts of the country. This turn of phrase implies that the crowds were so large that they physically obstructed one from getting to the Mayor’s door however was most likely an exaggeration of the truth; that the Mayor simply had very little time to spare on other matters during this period. Here, a figurative use of the well-accepted concept of a door representing one’s front to the world is assumed and it is expected that the reader would understand this without much difficulty. Another example of this can be found in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy where doors are often used to specify locations, for example ‘he (Uncle Toby) privately ordered Trim, his man, to pack up a bundle of lint and dressings, and hire a chariot and four to be at the door exactly by twelve o'clock that day’ p.83.


The location of a door on a building also makes it the best place for sign posts to be placed. In a text called The World by Adam Fitz Adam, a British periodical published by the Dodsleys in instalments from 1753-1756, one character praises sign posts for the fact that they ‘always stand ready without the door to inform you of what you are to expect within’. This alludes to the fact that shop windows and other means of displaying the contents of a shop or business to the public were not as viable an option for advertising as a sign in the 18th century, but also that doors, by their very nature obscure the contents of a room when they are closed. In Hogarth’s The Four Times of Day there are two examples of signage - one in the Morning Plate above the door of ‘Tom King’s Coffee House’ and one in the Evening plate for the ‘Sadler’s Wells’ theatre, engraved over an arch or doorway. Without these signs the buildings have little to distinguish them from other buildings when looking at them from the outside, especially in the city where blocks of houses are much more common.





Hospitality and Etiquette


Displaying inscriptions above doors was much more fashionable in the 18th Century, often in the form of a short poem or epigram, often witty and wise, and often describing the kind of space and its usage to be found within. For example a library or study was a place to cultivate the mind, a house to withdraw and recuperate in such as a hospital or church-funded ‘safe haven’. One example has the title ‘A Gentlewoman employ'd a Spark to gather Roses for her, but having very much prick'd his hands wou'd gather no more; upon which, the Lady was pleas'd to have a Rose Painted over his Door, with this Inscription under it.’ The short poem essentially states, in the context of this service he has done for her, that you can’t have pleasure without pain, alluding to the service he did for her with ‘None reaps the sweet, but he must tast the sow’r’. This illustrates the tendency in these inscriptions for the use of witticisms as this could be interpreted as cheeky, or the tendency for snippets of wisdom, as it could also be interpreted as an attempt to help the ‘spark’ see the positive side. 


Below is an example of an inscription that demonstrates the descriptive nature of these poems. It also has a very self-conscious feel to it, which demonstrates the way it is used to embellish the facade (the front of a property) of the building.


Lines wrote with a Pencil above the Door of a House, at Brunswick, remarkable for Hospitality.


Whate’er thou art, young, old, or rich, or poor,

Come, gentle stranger, ope this friendly door;

Each social virtue here the mansion fills,

Unknown to vice, and all her train of ills;

Content and Mirth some pleasure may afford,

And Plenty spreads the hospitable board;

Good-humour too, and Wit, my tenants are,

Right welcome thou the general treat to share,

Here youth and beauty, age and wisdom dwell,

Each neighb’ring swain my happiness can tell.


In The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy a ‘rap at the door’ is portrayed as an interruption to the daily life of the household p.91. Tristram’s father is in the middle of trying to define the word ‘analogy’ but is cut off and his mental process is likened to his pipe also ‘snapping…in two’. Mild chaos ensues at the suddenness of the interruption. The satirical nature of the text would imply that this comparison is expressly to mock Tristram’s father and anyone else who is startled so easily, and also to indirectly poke fun at the father’s pretentious intellectual ramblings with an ironically well-timed excuse to cut them short. In this scenario, despite knocking on a door being technically polite, as it is acknowledging and respecting the property as private, the satire relies on this very notion to demonstrate that in spite of the attempt of the person knocking to be polite, Tristram’s father was still disturbed and disproportionately so, to the extent that it took him months to ‘be safely delivered’ of him having lost his train of thought. The door here therefore also signifies reality knocking at the door of this overly-intellectual and theoretical character.  


Further social etiquette pertaining to doors is the assertion that Scottish people have the custom of not shutting the interior doors completely, however the source for this is clearly satirical, using numbers to mathematically weigh up the pros and cons of ‘door-shutting’, and no other sources claiming this have been found. The pros and cons considered, however, are very conscious of the social implications of shutting a door, conceding that shutting a door may give the wrong impression of one being angry, may be unpleasant for others, may imply that one is not coming back through the door when one might, to the point of implying that shutting doors is almost selfish when considering the effect it has on other people in the house. It is not certain whether such points are completely satirical or not, but it certainly highlights the confusing nature of etiquette and the anxiety caused by the potential for mistakes, especially when two cultures come together (in this case English and Scottish). 




It is well-known that Jane Austen supposedly had a creaking door between the front door and the offices in the house where she lived with her family which warned her when people were coming. This was useful because she did not have a private study to work in and she had to keep her writing a secret from everyone but family - including servants. Instead, she wrote in the sitting room where people would often be coming and going, as it was the main room for receiving guests. She wrote on small, easily concealable bits of paper so she could hide her writing quickly, so this aural warning was particularly convenient. This contrasts neatly with the section in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy where Tristram’s father talks at length about the hinges on the door needing to be oiled, who ought to do it (the smith) and the manner in which it ought to be done, without ever getting around to doing it; ‘every day for at least ten years together did my father resolve to have it mended’ p.182. It is ironic that Austen’s choice to leave her creaking door un-oiled is a conscious one while Tristram’s father’s is entirely unintentional despite the great discomfort it causes him.


Symbolism and Metaphor


Various figurative phrases using doors were popular in the 18th century such as ‘at the door’, meaning ‘near in time’. This plays with the idea of time being represented using physical space. Similarly one could be ‘at death’s door’, alluding to the idea of a door being the entrance to a property (which is owned by someone - the ‘proprietor’ - in this case Death). Below is a depiction of ‘Death’s Door’ by William Blake who was inspired by a poem written by Robert Blair called ‘The Grave’ published in 1743. A ‘door of hope’ was also used to describe the charitable help offered by religious institutions, whose aims were to take care of the welfare of the needy, including physical care and spiritual or moral guidance. This phrase was also used to describe any situation in which hope was represented in physical form - by a new opportunity or a fortunate change in circumstances.





Female sexuality can also be observed as being portrayed with the metaphor of a door being open or closed. A poem entitled ‘The repulsive maid’ centres around an exchange between a young maid and her lover. It begins with him asking to come in, which she refuses to do. It eventually transpires that she has learned that he has several other lovers and that her love has turned to hate. Here, a woman’s emotional and sexual availability to a man is represented by a door being open or closed to him. Furthermore, female sexual agency - a woman’s choice of mate - is likened to the female sexual organ for satirical purposes, adding a sexual undertone that in part undermines the maid’s attempt to cut ties with her now ex-lover. Similarly, in a poem written in the ‘Diverting post’ in 1705, the line ‘Vertue’s the Centry that must guard the Door, / And if that fails, she’ll surely be a whore.’ uses the metaphor of a woman’s sexual parts needing to be guarded by virtue, rather than by the husbands excessive attempts to confine his wife to keep her chaste - no doubt by keeping her ‘indoors’. The poem even asserts that such a man is essentially already a ‘cuckold’ in his own thoughts, because he believes such extravagant measures are necessary to keep his wife faithful to him.


In The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy doors are used to portray interruptions, as mentioned but also more widely as bookends to events. For example, at the end of chapter XII, volume III the quotation ‘when the door hastily opening in the next chapter but one———put an end to he affair’ alludes to a door that will open in a coming chapter as being an interruption of the current one p.163. The same effect of the door on the characters in the book is replicated by the narrator interjecting by talking about the door and by ending the chapter immediately afterwards. The mood is cut off, the dialogue is cut off, the chapter is cut off, all because a door is opened however while this clearly ends all of these elements it allows for a new chapter to begin, demonstrating how doors can terminate but also bring about something new. In this way doors can be associated with life and death, and indeed the death of Eugenius is communicated by the sentence ‘Yorick followed Eugenius with his eyes to the door,———he then closed them———, and never opened them more.’ The rhyming of ‘door’ and ‘no more’ emphasises the sense of coming to an end. When Yorick walks through the door, Eugenius mimics the way a door closes with his own eyes, and in doing so, dies. The reader associates walking out of a door with closing it, so by putting these two images side by side the reader fills in the gap, creating a sense of Yorick dying and Eugenius closing a chapter of his life.


Additionally, the fact that the door hinges were not mended for ten years in Tristram Shandy is compared to the change in government following the death of George II 25th October 1760 in the quotation ‘had the parlour-door open’d and turn’d upon it’s hinges, as a door should do…as cleverly as our government has been turning upon it’s hinges’183. An aside is then made of ‘(that is, in case things have all gone well with your worship———otherwise I give up my simile)’. This explains that this simile is a commentary on the politics of the time and implies many people were dissatisfied with the changes being made. The use of a door simile emphasises that the problem is a lack of consistency - ‘turning’ tends to be associated with betrayal or abandonment of a moral or political value. In this sense, walking through a door is a decision and can be a commitment, while returning back through the same door is immoral. 


Finally, in A Simple Story doors are presented as symbolising an arrival with ‘in vain she keeps her eye fixed upon the door of the apartment; he (Lord Frederick) does not enter’ p.53. As a door is the entrance to a room that simultaneously obscures what is behind it, heightening anticipation, but also presents what is on the other side of the wall when opened, it is unsurprisingly a symbol that carries a sense of anticipation of the future.  



Power, Control and Security


In Pamela, Fanny Hill and A Simple Story doors are a means of confining and controlling women. In Pamela, Mr B. repeatedly shuts doors and orders for doors to be locked to prevent Pamela from escaping. However, doors also signify hope for Pamela; the ‘back garden door’ is her one means of escape. Additionally, Pamela uses a door to put distance between her and Mr. B to save herself where she throws the door to and it locks after her, despite the fact that Mr. B had followed her so closely that he had got hold of her gown and ‘tore a piece off’ p.32. Furthermore, Mrs Jervis is able to come to Pamela’s aid through the same door after this incident when she collapses and briefly loses consciousness. On the other hand, she is only able to do this because Pamela’s ‘terroriser’, Mr. B, brings much of the force to help her burst through the door to Pamela’s rescue. Fanny Hill is also similarly confined however the statement ‘I was so thoroughly…brought over, so tame to their whistle, that, had my cage door been set open, I had no idea that I ought to fly anywhere, sooner than stay where I was’ demonstrates a kind of Stockholm syndrome crossed with naivety being more powerful than any door to confine her. Indeed, when she does escape, she only has to get the key to the street-door from Phoebe, who made no attempts to keep it secret from her, and choose an opportune moment to use it (p.38). Similarly, in A Simple Story the power struggle between Miss Milner and her guardian Mr Dorriforth is encapsulated by her hesitation at the door after he tells her she will not go out one evening. The quotation ‘her hand on the door she had half opened…which now she showed herself irresolute whether to open wide in defiance, or to shut submissive’ (p.29) demonstrates how much doors can be associated with power and control and the threat they can pose to agency, especially female agency, in a period where women had far fewer freedoms. Alternatively, one could argue that as Dorriforth was her guardian, the reason for confining her was based on her age and his responsibility for her rather than her sex. 


A similar power struggle to the one between Miss Milner and Mr Dorriforth is another between a husband and wife in a poem called ‘Joyful news for apprentices: or the cupboard-door broke open’. The poem centres around an argument between the two about whether to lock the food-cupboard door and thus let the apprentices eat as much as the food they want. The wife wants to prevent them from helping themselves while the husband considers it his duty and good for business to make sure his apprentices are well-fed. The exchange follows the cupboard door having been ‘broke open’ by the husband. This shows how a lock on a door by no means rendered the contents secure. It is not possible to know whether such gendered power-struggles were common in similar households of the time however the very creation of this poem implies this kind of argument was common enough to be noticed and make into a poem. In fact, it may well have been the topic of many ‘curtain lectures’.


Locks are the primary means of securing a property in the 18th century, and even Gulliver in his small box made for him during his stay in Brobdingnag required one, where he suffered from having rats and mice coming inside (p.95). Another way to secure a building further, although perhaps only viable in castles, was having an iron door and in front of a second main door, like the one mentioned in Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland at Castle Lochbuy (p.145). For a less serious form of security, to prevent draughts and doors slamming loudly, there were fairly new inventions, like the one advertised and patented by a Mr Jackson, like special hinges with ‘springes’ to slow down the door closing and a special flap, also attached to a contraption with a spring, to fall down when the door closes and raise when it is opens.


As religion was a much greater part of everyday life in the 18th century, and therefore many more people attended church, the church door was an important location in cities, towns and villages. As reported in Lowlife, thieves would take advantage of the fact that families would be attending Sunday mass to ‘rush upon’ any servants who imprudently opened the doors to them (p.70). Additionally, for other unfortunate members of the community who had to resort to begging, some would bribe the the beadles of the parishes to let them beg outside the church when the sermon is finished to profit from the charity of the church-goers (p.54).



Trap-doors and Trickery


Trap doors were popularly used as plot devices to facilitate secret activity such as affairs, scams and attempts to gain power or control. This relies on the fact that they could be secret or as they were not proper doors they tended to be overlooked.


In a short story called ‘The KNIGHT, and the TRAP DOOR’ a knight and a lady dream of each other in their sleep, after which the knight sets in search of a her in the hopes that she really exists. One day, he sees her in the window of a tower but he soon discovers she is married. He decides to ask the husband to hire him as his protector and slay his enemies, in order to try to get close to the lady. Eventually he becomes the Lord’s duke and requests to build a lodge near the tower. With the use of a trap door and a passage between their quarters the lovers are able to trick the husband into believing the duke’s finance is a different woman to his wife so that he agrees to freely give his wife away to the knight at their wedding. Furthermore, in a play called ‘The reform’d wife’ by William Burnaby, one of the characters, a Sir Solomon Empty, expresses the opinion that trap-doors make affairs far more exciting and that he would never use a proper door even if he had the option. This is not unlike in plate II of A Harlot’s Progress where Moll’s lover is carefully sneaking out of the door behind her ‘keeper’s’ back. 





In a real-life example of trickery involving the use of a trap door, a tallow chandler in London had created a secret room above the ceiling of his kitchen which he hid with a trap door concealed behind a well-stocked bacon rack (bacon that was no doubt one of the sources of fat he used for making candles). In this room he supposedly was in the business of ‘defrauding the king’ with ‘clandestine Trade’ over the course of three or four years, for which he was fined fifty pounds on being exposed. 


In another case in 1725, a girl named Martha Mead was able to gain access into a house by a trap-door on the ‘House Top’ to steal some clothes, but did not manage to escape and was discovered hiding under the bed by a chairwoman. This trap door, while allowing her to enter the house, proving it to be detrimental to the security of the building, did not equally mean it was easy for her to slip out. However one could say that the chances of her being interrupted were low and she was particularly unlucky to be caught. In addition, it may have been that this trap-door was a hatch in case of fires, not unlike the one in Harvard House in Stratford-upon-Avon that is part of the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust, which ironically would have made the house safer from fires but more easily accessible to thieves.





In Lowlife these same trap-doors ‘on the Top of the House’ enable dissatisfied apprentices to run away from their masters ‘while all the Family are fast asleep’ (p.11) while others use the same trap-doors in the roofs to go and feed their pigeons that they keep unbeknownst to their masters and their families that they live with (p.59).


Alternatively, trap-doors also offer the possibility of witnessing something unobserved due to their inconspicuousness, like in a theft that occurred on 7th September 1717. In the description of the case it states that ‘another Evidence (witness) deposed, that hearing there were Thieves in a House, he ran up Stairs, and opening a Trap-door saw the Prisoner on the Ridge of a House’. This witness then raised the alarm and with the help of another managed to catch the thief. Therefore, these trap doors may have made houses more easily accessible to criminals, they could also be used to catch them. 


Permeable doors: peepholes and eavesdropping


The nature of a door is that it allows one to pass in and out of rooms and makes a wall ‘permeable’. This is also the case for sounds and sights. In the 18th century nearly all doors were made of wood which is much less sound-proof than a wall. Keyholes, gaps underneath doors and doors left slightly ajar all enable one to experience elements of events happening in the next room undetected. An example of this is in Pamela when her father is hidden behind the door when he first arrives at the Lincolnshire Estate (p.294). All the rest of the party know he is there except Pamela as a kind of joke by the others that also serves to exaggerate Pamela’s emotional reaction and the dramatic moment of reunion. In Tristram Shandy there is an example of ‘eavesdropping’ (which is a term that originated from someone who loitered where water dropped from the eaves on the roof of a house so that they could listen in to what was being said within) when Uncle Toby pronounces the word ‘Wife’ loudly after Obadiah has left the door a little ajar, which is overheard by Mrs Shandy is passing the room who then listens in on the conversation by putting her ear up to the ‘chink’ in the door (p.322).


While eavesdropping and spying can be considered immoral because one is witnessing something that one may perhaps not have the right to be privy to, the idea of a peep-hole can be utilised to instruct people back onto the right moral path. In one text entitled ‘The application of redemption by the effectual work of the word, and spirit of Christ, for the bringing home of lost sinners to God…’ the idea of spying through a peephole is used as a way of presenting the reader with an image of Hell to persuade them back onto a more righteous path; ‘make but a peep-hole into Hell, and lay your ear and listen to those yellings of the Devils and damned, cursing the day that ever they were born’. 


The permeability of doors also renders them a popular narrative device, especially in romance or erotic novels. In both Pamela and Fanny Hill, while doors confine the main characters they are also used to spy upon others. In Pamela the spying is done to her by Mr B who hides in the closet in Mrs Jervis’ room and also in the closet in the green room. It is not clear what his intentions are; whether he is waiting to take advantage of Pamela or whether he may just be eavesdropping, perhaps to try to understand whether Pamela is the ‘sauce-box’ he accuses her of being (p.31). In Fanny Hill, however, Fanny is always the one doing the spying. Firstly she sees Mrs Brown having sex with a man while lying down in her closet recovering from her fever (p.24), then Phoebe takes her into the closet of Polly’s room to see her and her Genoese lover have sex (p.29) and she also discovers Mr. H having sex with the servant girl with the help of a peep-hole; ‘a knot in the wood had been slipt out and afforded a very commanding peep-hole to the scene’ (p.67-68). In this sense, doors can be considered facilitators of sexual voyeurism. Additionally, in Gulliver’s Travels the monkey that grabs Gulliver’s box and takes him up onto the roof is described as ‘peeping in at the door and every window’ which presents the permeability of doors and windows as a threat to security, one that renders the person being spied upon as in danger in some way. This supports the argument of peep-holes being concerning in a moral sense, in contrast to the attempts to use images of hell to motivate sinners to make better choices mentioned above. It is arguable that if one extends this concept of ‘to be spied upon is to be under threat’ to the sexual voyeurism in Fanny Hill and Pamela, this could be considered as a kind of violation, one with which the reader is simultaneously complicit in Fanny Hill.   


Despite the permeability of doors, they are also popularly used to shut out sound as a form of being polite or discrete. In Tristram Shandy the narrator adds in a warning or what resembles a stage direction of ‘shut the door’ before talking about how he was ‘begot’ while in A Simple Story Miss Milner waits for the door to ‘shut after’ Mr Dorriforth before asking out loud ‘What can make good people so skilled in all the weaknesses of the bad’(p.25). Here, doors are assumed to muffle sound enough to be discrete when discussing sensitive topics. Furthermore, in Gulliver’s Travels Gulliver has a difficult time listening to the music that they play in the palace at Brobdingnag because it is too loud for his tiny ears (in comparison) to tolerate. He describes that they would shut the doors and windows of the small house they made for him, and draw the curtains ‘after which…(he) found their music not disagreeable’(p.115).




Annotated Bibliography


Primary Sources


Land Lottery: ‘Advertisement’, Post Boy, issue 741, (January 1700), 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.

This text was interesting because the concept of having a lottery where one can win prizes of land seems a strange concept today. The idea that they were to raise money for charity but were notoriously dodgy gives an interesting insight into the runnings of 18th century life. 

Land Lottery II: Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London, During the Eighteenth Century… Peller Malcolm, J. London: printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme, 1810. Web. Google Books. 18 Mar. 2016.

This text helped better understand the context of the advertisement for the land lottery above.

The World by Adam Fitz Adam: The World, by Adam Fitz Adam, Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of (1694-1773). Dublin: printed by George Faulkner (1754-1757). Web. Historical Texts. 18 Mar. 2016. 

This text showed how valuable signage was in order to advertise during the 18th century.

The very hospitable house in Brunswick: Lines wrote with a Pencil above the Door of a House, at Brunstock, remarkable for Hospitality, The Town and country magazine, issue 9, London: Feb 1777. Web. Proquest. 18 Mar. 2016.

This poem neatly epitomises the kind of epigrams that would be seen everywhere in the 18th century.

 Rose Lady and Spark: ‘A Gentlewoman employ'd a Spark to gather Roses for her, but having very much prick'd his hands wou'd gather no more; upon which, the Lady was pleas'd to have a Rose Painted over his Door, with this Inscription under it,’ The Poetical courant, ed. Philips, S, vol. 1, issue 9. London: June 1706. Web. Proquest. 18 Mar. 2016.

This poem shows an unique and personal, every-day exchange between two people from the era.

Scotch Doors: Why the Scotch do not shut the door, Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, ed. Chambers, W, Chambers, R, issue 428, (March 1852). Web. Proquest. 18 Mar. 2016.

It was difficult to understand how serious this text was being, because the way n which it was written seemed too pretentious and pedantic to really take completely seriously, however the way in which it demonstrates how different countries and households use doors is interesting.

The Repulsive Maid: The repulsive maid who once to a young-man but now cannot win, to open the door and let him come in, to a pleasant new tune: or, Open the door and let me come in. London: printed for F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1664. Web. Historical Texts. 18 Mar. 2016. 

This source is quite amusing, especially as it was supposed to be sung to a tune and therefore seems to be something that would have been shared and joked about by friends and family.  

Advice to a jealous husband: ‘Arts & Entertainment’, Diverting Post, issue 32. London: May 1705. Web. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers. 18 Mar. 2016.

The idea that men were encouraged to bear their wives' welfare in mind and urged to give them more freedom if they seemed to confine them too much shows an interesting insight into gender relations in the 18th century. 

Springe Door Hinges: ‘Mr Jackson's Door Hinges’, The Edinburgh magazine. Edinburgh: March 1797. Web. Proquest. 18 Mar. 2016.

This advertisement indicates the level of technological advancement available for making doors and thus how people would have related to them in every-day life.

The cupboard door broke open: Joyful news for apprentices: or, the cupboard-door broke open. Web. Historical Texts. [ https://data.historicaltexts.jisc.ac.uk/view?pubId=ecco-0088402500&terms=door&date=1700-1800&undated=exclude&pageTerms=door&pageId=ecco-0088402500-10) ]. 18 Mar. 2016.

This text is useful because it shows an insight into the way households might have been managed, including the distribution of power between the husband and wife.

The Knight and the Trap-door: ‘The KNIGHT, and the TRAP DOOR’, The Town and country magazine, issue 21. London: October 1789.  Web. Proquest. 18 Mar. 2016.

This story seems a very typical sort of short romance story, however with a couple of unexpected elements to it that make it interesting such as the knight's decision to effectively penetrate enemy lines and slay the enemies of his rival to rescue the maiden from her loveless marriage to him

Tricky Tallow Chandler: ‘News’, London Journal, issue 285. London: January1725. Web. 17th-18th Burney Collection Newspapers. 18 Mar. 2016.

This text shows that trap-doors really did facilitate all kinds of suspicious activity.

The reformed wife: The reform’d wife. London: printed for T. Bennet, 1700. Web. Historical Texts. 18 Mar. 2016.

This text demonstrates how trap doors, which were more prevalent in the 18th century than today, were appreciated in a variety of ways.

Witness of theft: Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 18 March 2016), September 1717, trial of John King (t17170911-13). 

This text shows another use of trap-doors.

Martha Mead, thief: Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 18 March 2016), June 1725, trial of Martha Mead (t17250630-24).

This text highlights how trap-doors could make the security of a house vulnerable to intruders.

Peep-hole into Hell: The application of redemption by the effectual work of the word, and spirit of Christ, for the bringing home of lost sinners to God …, Hooker, Thomas. London: 1656. Web. Historical Texts. 18 Mar. 2016.

This text was interesting to read because such texts are no longer popular today now that religion is not a predominant part of society. The idea of peep-holes serving as an opportunity to see something that is of benefit to the viewer and no detriment to the person being watched also helps demonstrate the many uses of doors (and peep-holes).



Primary Texts


Anon. Lowlife, or, One Half of the World Knows Not How the Other Half Lives. London: Printed for John Lever. 1764. Print.


Cleland, J, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)


Defoe, D, Journal of a Plague Year (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990)


Inchbald, E, A Simple Story (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)


Johnson, S, Boswell, J, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (London: Penguin Books, 1984)


Sterne, L, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (London: Penguin Books, 2003)


Swift, J, Gulliver’s Travels (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)


Richardson, S, Pamela (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)



Secondary Sources


Jane Austen: http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/jealmcds.html Web. 18 Mar. 2016.





Figure 1: The Four Times of Day, Morning Plate, William Hogarth https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Times_of_the_Day Web. 18 Mar. 2016.


Figure 2: The Four Times of Day, Evening Plate, William Hogarth https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Times_of_the_Day Web. 18 Mar. 2016.


Figure 3: ‘Why the Scotch do not shut the door,’ Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, ed. Chambers, W, Chambers, R, issue 428, (March 1852). Web. Proquest. 18 Mar. 2016.


Figure 4: Illustrations to Robert Blair’s The Grave, William Blake, 1805. https://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/sullenfires/sfw/door.htmlWeb. 18 Mar. 2016.


Figure 5: A Harlot’s Progress William Hogarth, plate II, 1732 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Harlot%27s_Progress Web. 18 Mar. 2016.


Figure 6: a photograph of a fire hatch in Harvard House in Stratford-upon-Avon, part of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. https://mllboi.wordpress.com/blobblogs/page/2/ Web. 18 March 2016.




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