Discover the Story of Things at Fairfax House

What if the things around us could talk? What tales would they tell? Would they gossip about their owners? Offer sly commentary on human habits? Serve as witnesses to theft? In the Georgian era, a new type of novel attempted to answer exactly these kinds of questions.

Object narratives (sometimes called it-narratives) made things the centre of attention, turning inanimate items into speaking heroes and heroines. These Georgian versions of Toy Story were jam-packed with adventures and the witty insights gleaned by objects about eighteenth-century homes, people, trade and culture. Most stories focused on coins and banknotes (like shillings, guineas and rupees), as money passed through many different hands. Other stories recounted the adventures and insights of carriages, shoes and waistcoats, and even the Bank of England.

In June 2017, Fairfax House launched The Story of Things project, in partnership with Dr Chloe Wigston Smith of the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York.

The Story of Things invites pupils and the public to imagine secret histories and hidden mysteries at Fairfax House. What confidences might the pianoforte in the dinning room share? What surprising gossip might the tea caddy glean from ladies in the drawing room? What stealthy behaviour does the bookcase witness in the library? What does the sedan chair know about its passengers?