Manuscripts and Special Collections

The New State of England: the Glorious Revolution and its aftermath

This exhibition ran from September to December 2011 and was curated by Manuscripts and Special Collections.

At the dawn of the eighteenth century a Dutch king was sitting on the English throne. A new era in British politics and cultural life had begun. This exhibition showcased the early archives of the Portland family held by Manuscripts and Special Collections to chart a journey through the tumultuous decades 1685-1720.

The New State of England exhibition poster

William of Orange was the Dutch replacement for the Catholic James II, placed on the throne as a result of the political turmoil of the Glorious Revolution. The exhibition explored some fierce and strikingly familiar sounding, eighteenth-century debates. Could a Catholic inherit the British crown and how should the nations of England and Scotland be governed under the crown? What were the rights and wrongs of free speech, and was the press dangerously powerful? How could the economy respond to a stock market bubble and crash? Amidst these discussions, playwrights, poets and authors revelled in the scandalous behaviour of certain monarchs and politicians.

The display followed the figure of William Bentinck, one of William of Orange’s closest confidantes and advisors whose service was rewarded with the title Earl of Portland. He was the founder of a powerful political family, based at Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire. The Portland papers with their letters and literature, poems and pamphlets, squibs and satire are a key source for this fascinating period in British history. 

Exhibition poster

Poster for the New State of England exhibition

Exhibition Boards

Unfortunately it is not possible to display representations of the original archive material which featured in the exhibition cases, but the boards which were displayed in the Weston Gallery are available here in PDF format.

They present images and text on the following themes:

Visitor comments

A most interesting exhibition – thank you


Very interesting

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Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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