English Country Houses – not quite what they seem
Since the Second World War, visiting country houses has become one of Britain's major tourist activities. Historic homes ranging from the great palaces of Blenheim, Castle Howard and Chatsworth to modest manor houses have opened their doors to the paying public. Visiting the fabulously rich cultural heritage of great houses provides a very broad range of experiences from major monuments preserved apparently at a particular moment in time to homes which are palpably loved and lived in.
Understanding the operation of the distorting lens of time, and the way in which all houses are palimpsests, simply because "...the lives of buildings and the lives of human beings are timed by different clocks..." [Alice T Friedman], enhances and enriches the visitor's depth of insight into the buildings, their contents and and the landscapes of Britain's great landed estates.
This lecture takes an unusual look at a range of English country houses, examining how their recent history illuminates their more distant past.
For background information about sites relevant to this lecture, please go to Having a ball at Welbeck Abbey, Minimalist Georgian, More country-house railways, No shrinking Violet and Open House Day at Harlaxton Manor.