In many books I read, I find a word or phrase that I have not "met" before and that I wish to be better acquainted with. Some words are worth doing research on, and I would like to shine the spotlight on one such new word or phrase every week.
This week's phrase is: "cottage ornee" (with an acute accent on the first 'e' in ornee)
"He is a warm friend to Sanditon - ' said Mr. Parker - "and his hand would be as liberal as his heart, had he the power. - He would be a noble coadjutor! - As it is, He does what he can - and s running up a tasteful little cottage ornee, on a strip of waste ground Lady Denham has granted him..."
- from Sanditon by Jane Austen.
What exactly is a "cottage ornee"?
For starters, it is pronounced the French way - "cottaazh ornay"
"A cottage ornee is a villa on a small scale, which may be characterised by the garden-front opening into a picturesque lawn varied by groups of trees. The cottage is generally low in proportion to its extent, and the roof; which is frequently thatched, has projecting eaves. The walls should be covered with climbing plants, and there is generally a veranda round the house."
From the Wikipedia entry on Houghton Lodge (pictures included):
According to Wikipedia, around the final quarter of the eighteenth century, "it became fashionable for the upper classes to enjoy country life due to the improvements in roads which made a visit to the country easier than it had been."
"The new fashion extended to architecture and incorporated elements from the growing interest in the picturesque. Designs became more rustic, houses became lower and seemingly smaller, often at the expense of the servants comfort, as the still essential domestic quarters were forced out of sight, often underground or onto a separate wing of their own.
Houghton Lodge is a standing cottage ornee in Hampshire, England. This website has nice pictures and explanations to go. It even has a section on Jane Austen and the cottage ornee. I enjoyed exploring this site, and would love to visit Houghton Lodge someday!