The English Country House

While trends in architecture and decor come and go, the appeal of the English country house is one that perennially remains. And for those who have been lost without their weekly dose of Downton Abbey, this season’s addition to Vendome’s Country House series will obligingly bridge the gap. Featuring ten exceptional British country homes still in the hands of the original families, The English Country House tells their stories, from stylistic evolution to familial traditions and historical relevance. As noted by Julian Fellowes in his introduction, the English country house will always hold “that intriguing blend of great art and architecture mixed in with the romance and tragedy of the people who have lived within their walls.”

The English Country House

Like last year’s The Scottish Country House, the book includes beautiful natural-light photography by James Fennell and through James Peill’s approachable and informative text, we are escorted through the houses, replete with architectural explanations and savory social tidbits.

English Country House

Milton in Cambridgeshire, for example, became the foundation for Daphne du Maurier’s Manderley in Rebecca, based on her memories of childhood visits in 1917 when it was being used as a convalescent home for British Army officers. A more tragic memory notes it was the heir to Milton who, with his lover, JFK’s sister Kick, was killed in a 1948 plane crash. The house is now meticulously maintained by the tenth earl’s grandson, Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland, Bt. The first floor gallery, above, with its spectacular three part ceiling, was designed in the early 1700s. A bath below charms with its eclectic gallery wall.

English Country House

The book ranges from smaller houses (a relative term), such as Kentchurch, below, home to the Scudamore family for nearly a millennium.

English Country House

to the more well known grand estates such as Badminton. The current house, originally dating to the 17th century, has seen a complex series of additions and remodeling through the years. It was under the third Duke of Beaufort, during the 18th century, that many famous enhancements were made, including the decoration of the Great Hall, below. It was here that the groundwork for the game of badminton was laid. In fact, the standard size of a badminton court today is the same as the Great Hall.

English Country HouseThe Great Staircase, remodeled in the early 19th century, features some of the almost 200 family portraits hanging in the house.

English Country House

Following the destruction of almost a thousand British country houses between 1945-55, many families have had to think of innovative and creative solutions to keep their ancestral homes alive. At Badminton, the annual Horse Trials have proved indispensable to the survival of the estate. And at Goodwood, below, the famous Festival of Speed and a myriad of other events have been a boon to the financial fitness of the property.

English Country House

English Country House

You may remember the exterior from the brilliant ad campaign introducing Belstaff a couple of years ago – a fabulous fusion of old and new.

English Country House

The book celebrates the enduring legacy of the English country house and the families who for centuries have been guardians of their fate. For the aficionado of architecture, interiors, history or way of life, this is a keeper for your collection.

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6 Responses to The English Country House

  1. Sometimes I ask myself if I really need another English Interiors coffee table book and the answer is always a resounding YES! That bath has me absolutely giddy…thank you for the heads up on this one…


  2. Karena says:

    Hi Stacey,
    The architecture and ancestral portraits are grand!
    The Arts by Karena

  3. This is definitely a must-have book! It always makes me so sad to think of the country houses that were destroyed after the war. The determination of the families who kept their homes going is inspiring, and these are beautiful examples. Counting the days until Downton returns!

  4. franki says:

    While “not as grand”…I do so love living in my almost century old English Tudor. Must get this book!! franki

  5. alice says:

    nice interior the woodwork is awesome

    Black jacket

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