Warfield Park, Berkshire
Did the longings, which East India Company officials and their families bore for ‘home’, England and their country houses, mark the country house as an important component of a specifically ‘English’ landscape and thus precipitate its entry into the heritage consciousness?
This case study begins to answer these questions by exploring the biographies of different individuals within the Walsh family. Over at least three generations, the Walsh family were significantly involved with the East India Company (EIC). Consequently, different members spent considerable periods of their lives in India, an experience which led them to continually reassess their relationship to and understanding of ‘home’ and ‘England’. Earlier generations of the family imagined not necessarily a ‘home’ in England, but rather a space ‘England’ and used it to ground their Indian experiences. In contrast later generations focused upon a particular place, Warfield, which conjured up ideas of belonging. Once returned to England, they invested this domestic space with time, effort and money. As generations of the Walsh family moved into and out of Warfield they altered and improved it in different ways, creating it anew. By examining the Walsh’s relationship to Warfield, this case study also uncovers how the country house played an important role in EIC officials and their families’ conceptions of place and home.