Writing a book is a time-consuming, intensive, and enriching experience which, although it is sometimes lonely, is only possible thanks to the generous support and help of fellows, research groups and institutions. The research that this book contains was made possible by several generous fellowships, including a research fellowship (B.O.F.) from the University of Ghent, a F.W.O. postdoctoral fellowship, a Francqui Fellowship, and two research support grants by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London and at Yale. I thank these institutions as well as all librarians and archivists who facilitated my research and helped me to retrieve material.
During the years of research and writing, I was supported by inspiring experts. In the first place I would like to express my gratitude to Prof. Maarten Delbeke, who acted as the supervisor of the PhD which lies at the basis of this book and who continuously supported me. I am also indebted to Prof. Caroline van Eck, who kindly shared her expertise, knowledge, and passion for British architecture with me. Thanks are also due to peers whose input and support was essential at particular moments: Prof. Christine Stevenson, Prof. Dirk De Meyer, Prof. Bart Verschaffel, dr. Sylvia Van Peteghem, Prof. Alexander Roose, Prof. Barbara Baert. A special word of thanks is due to the Group of Early Modern Cultural Analysis (UC Louvain) and its founding directors Prof. Ralph Dekoninck, Prof. Agnès Guiderdoni. They offered me a unique platform to explore ideas in a thought-provoking though friendly and warm environment.
My current head of department, Prof. Krista De Jonge, acts as a safekeeper for good research conditions, which are fundamental for the undertaking of a project like this. Hence, I am pleased to acknowledge the KU Leuven, department and faculty of architecture, whose financial support enriched the book with illustrations, supported the copy-editing process and gave me time to complete this work.
I also wish to express my gratitude to all those who read the last versions of the manuscript: to my colleague and friend, Eric Devos who scrupulously commented on the manuscript before I sent it off for review and read the proofs; to Bram De Maeyer who helped with the bibliography and footnotes; to the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript, for their valuable advice and lawful questions. Many thanks to Prof. Anthony Geraghty who shared his expertise and pertinent advice at a most crucial moment and brought my attention back to the essence of my work.
For the publication process I am greatly indebted to Arjan Van Dijk, Professor Walter Melion, Ivo Romein and Wilma de Weert. This book would never have been accomplished without their guidance, help, patience, and trust. A special word of thanks is also due to Sally Salvesen, my copy editor, who enthusiastically embarked on the daunting task of turning my B-English (Belgian English) into a good text.
I would also like to thank my British friends and colleagues for exchanging thoughts on our research topics and for making my (long) stays in the U.K. enriching, friendly, and amusing: Ann D.R., Teresa S., Nele D., Elke B., Sophie D., Sarah G., Paget A., Pascal H.G., Benjamin B., and most of all my “BFF” Michèle B.. Many thanks also to all members of SAHGB, and in particular Jo O., Ann-Marie A., Jonathan K., Olivia H.T. and Mark K.. To my (former) colleagues and friends in Belgium: Marc D., Jelle L., Nathan VdB., Luce B., Fredie F.. Thank you to my friends and relatives in Belgium, who had all too often to share me with my books and my research stays abroad: Leen C. & co., Catherine D.C., Veerle L., Sophie L., Peter D., Claudine D., Endrey and Treesje. A special thanks to my friends who helped me with the proofreading: Sofie Steenhoudt, Els Vander Stichelen and Johan Vanderdonckt, and their friend Stephen Taylor, Griet Mortier-Demeestere, Sophie Degeegher, Mano Vercaemst and Willem Derde.
Last but not least, I express a special thanks to Jan B. for his caring attention. I offer my profound gratitude and love to my parents, especially my mother, whose care and support through the years allowed me to make all the efforts leading up to the accomplishment of this project. I conclude these profound words of thanks with a special thought for my late father and grandparents.