The British Country House Revival
Title Details

250 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

20 b/w illus.

Imprint: Boydell Press

The British Country House Revival

by Ben Cowell

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
British country houses have experienced a renaissance since the early 1970s. A new accord is needed today, recognising the increasingly contested contribution of country houses to British cultural life.


Fifty years ago, the future for country houses in Britain looked bleak. The Victoria & Albert Museum's exhibition The Destruction of the Country House, which opened in October 1974, charted the loss of over a thousand country houses in the preceding century. The makers of the exhibition warned that history could be "about to repeat itself" because of the threats besetting mansion properties, principally from higher taxation. Houses faced the prospect of having to be stripped of their collections and sold for use as offices, hotels, or hospitals, with their parks and gardens turned into golf clubs. Government might afford to save just a handful of the most significant of these places, working in tandem with charities such as the National Trust. The rest would be consigned to history.


This book traces the history of country houses in Britain, from the Destruction exhibition to the present day. The wave of country house losses anticipated in 1974 never actually happened. Instead, over the next five decades Britain's country houses experienced a renaissance. Fiscal rules changed in the mid-1970s to make it easier for owners to hold on to their assets. Economic improvements in the 1980s and 1990s allowed many houses and estates to develop profitable commercial businesses. All of this was achieved only after dedicated campaigning from heritage organisations in support of the country house cause. The book argues that a new accord is needed today, to recognise and value the ongoing, if increasingly contested, contribution of country houses to British life and culture in the twenty-first century.
INTRODUCTION: 'Historic Homes' or 'Roofless Ruins': British country houses after the War

PART ONE: SURVIVAL
1. On the brink
2. Apocalypse then
3. Until the pips squeaked
4. A family affair
5. To be, or not to be?

PART TWO: REVIVAL
6. In trust for the nation
7. To the manor reborn
8. Treasure houses
9. Living above the shop
10. A design for life
11. Country house rescue

CONCLUSION: The British country house today

APPENDIX
HHA Presidents
HHA Executive Officers
Winners - Garden of the Year Award
Winners - Restoration Award

BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

BEN COWELL, OBE, is the Director General of Historic Houses

Hardcover

9781837650583

May 2024

£75.00 / $110.00

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May 2024

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9781805432883

May 2024

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Title Details

250 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

20 b/w illus.

Imprint: Boydell Press