A gentleman’s retreat or study was a sanctuary where a cultured Georgian gentleman might indulge his interests in science, inventions and the natural world.
The objects and books in the cabinets typify the 18th century’s obsession with gaining knowledge through collecting during the period referred to as the Age of Enlightenment.
The European ‘Grand Tour’ was an essential part of every gentleman’s education. Travelling to Italy and visiting monuments of antiquity provided an opportunity to bring back souvenirs to furnish the home. They also offered a way for a gentleman to show he was a man of culture and learning.
The electrical machine on display is a modern replica of Nairne’s Patent Electrical Machine, which dates from 1783. When turned, the central drum rubs against a sprung pad to create a charge.
This charge is stored in the Leyden jar and once the voltage reaches around 9000 volts, a spark jumps across the spark gap. Electrical machines were used for medical therapy in the 18th century, shocks being used to alleviate aches and pains.