Leisure, luxury and urban specialisation in the eighteenth century

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This article forms a contribution to the ongoing debate about the nature of an English urban renaissance. We draw on Schwarz's designation of residential leisure towns to explore the spread of leisure and luxury through a broad range of towns. Our analysis reveals that leisure facilities and luxury service and retail provision were widespread, but that residential leisure towns appear as qualitatively different places, the status of which was contingent upon social profile and cultural-economy, rather than demographic, political or socio-economic make up. We conclude by arguing that urban typologies based on specialization should be tempered with older-established and more subjective categorizations based on the status of the town.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-236
Number of pages21
JournalUrban History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008