Englishmen’s Castles

Gavin Stamp

  • The Victorian Country House by Mark Girouard
    Yale, 470 pp, £14.95, September 1980, ISBN 0 300 02390 1
  • The Artist and the Country House by John Harris
    Sotheby Parke Bernet, 376 pp, £37.50, November 1980, ISBN 0 85667 053 7
  • National Trust Studies 1980 edited by Gervase Jackson-Stops
    Sotheby Parke Bernet, 175 pp, £8.95, October 1980, ISBN 0 85667 065 0

Who can resist the appeal of the English country house? Publishers are well aware of their popularity – which is doubtless explained by snobbery and the antique trade as much as anything – so we have a constant stream of books on the subject as well as the phenomenon of those cognoscenti aptly characterised recently in the pages of Harpers and Queen as the ‘National Trust Navy’. When we write about churches, mausolea, town halls or power stations, the only purchasers are from that small, incestuous public interested in architecture, but country houses manage to secure a much wider, even popular, audience. Mark Girouard’s Life in the English Country House has actually become a best-seller – extraordinary in the field of architectural history – and its unprecedented success has encouraged Yale to issue as a companion volume a new edition of his earlier The Victorian Country House.

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