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Photographic Portraits by Lafayette from the Collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The motor home

The sheer expense involved in acquiring and running a motor car meant that in the early years, they were the preserve of the super rich. They obviously did not find unaesthetic the addition of a motor car in front of a grand house - as in this 1902 image made in front of Gunnersbury Park, the residence of Mr Leopold de Rothschild, a wealthy and refined art connoisseur.

Photograph from The Car Illustrated, 20 August 1902

As the motorcar was the new generation of horse, much of the same terminology was used for motoring paraphernalia. A motor was kept in a “stable” and a group of motors constituted a “stud”. As they also needed housing, the early motoring magazines gave suggestions of how to adapt the former horse’s stable for use by the motor car as seen in this 1902 drawing published in The Car Illustrated on 28 May 1902.

As the car started to share the environment with horses, The Illustrated London News in 1904 attempted to calm the horse-owning public. A drawing of horses and a motor car outside Marlborough House, one of London’s great stately homes, bore the caption: “At first the attitudes of the horses manifest fear, but gradually they show signs of familiarity and friendship. At last they come boldly up to the car and rub their noses against it.”


The more modest property owner was also given advice on how to convert his conservatory into a “motor house” and still keep some room for the potted plants.

Illustration from The Car Illustrated, 18 June 1902 .

For those without existing “stables” for conversion, the Wood Motor Car House of 1904 could be ordered by post. In order to fit in with the classic look of the automobile, the decorative trim under the eaves harks back to the stately building style prevalent in 16th-century England under the Tudor dynasty.

Advertisement from The Car Illustrated, 23 November 1904

All texts copyright Barbara Borkowy and Russell Harris 2007