The English Manor House: From the Archives of "Country Life"
Found in all the best lavatories in Britain, the magazine < I> Country Life is famous for two things: its "girls in pearls" photos of upper class young British women, and the endless glossy property pages full of Cotswold stone rectories, Scottish hunting lodges and grand Palladian mansions. A lot of these property shots are advertising, pure and simple. But some are editorial: ever since its inception in 1897 the journal has deliberately showcased, each week, at least one notably interesting manor house or "stately"-quite often one that has been recently renewed or rejigged.
This book, edited by a < I> Country Life writer aims to collect the best of these photo-studies, from the years before World War I I. And a very worthwhile exercise it is. Whether it's neo-classical Kelmarsh, neo-medieval Sissinghurst, or neo-Regency Biddesden, the nobility of these houses is more than apparent. Admittedly, the photographs-and the houses-weren't always what they seemed: the author confesses in his accompanying text that the furniture was often rearranged, the interiors remodelled, and any annoyingly untidy real people rigorously excluded, so as to match the editor's conception of the timeless "ideal". But it doesn't matter. Gazing at these suave and alluring snapshots of a wonderful, refined, unspoilt, perfect England, the urge to believe and admire is palpable. This is an intriguing and very elegant book.