Skip to main content

This Book Shows Why English Country Houses Never Go Out of Style

The English country house has long been a source of both fascination and inspiration for anyone interested in classic design. So whenever an impressive new monograph on the subject is published it's bound to spark considerable interest. 

Hence you'll want to hurry up and pre-order English House Style: From the Archives of Country Life by John Goodall, being published on Sept. 10 by Rizzoli and now available for pre-order on Amazon before all copies have been spoken for.

The oversized compendium contains nearly 350 photographs drawn from the iconic magazine devoted to the lifestyle of the English country magazine that originally debuted over 120 years ago. 

With lavishly illustrated chapters devoted to sixteen distinct interior periods, including Gothic, Tudor, Baroque, Palladian and Regency, that have been widely used in country estates over the past three centuries, it "traces the evolution of classic British house styles that have helped lay the foundations for what have become touchstones for every decorator, designer, and architect working today."

Also explored are "the most influential tastemakers" through the centuries, from Horace Walpole and William Morris to Nancy Lancaster and Colefax and Fowler. "Decorators across the globe draw from these styles, which are embodied in the most important homes across England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland," Goodall notes.

Many famous estates are featured, including the magnificent Castle Howard of Brideshead Revisited fame, Chatsworth House, Hatfield House, Wardington Manor, Marchmont House, and Lindisfarne Castle. In addition to mere interior design these stately homes which have evolved over the years also showcase "the way the wealthy have lived in England."

While no one style truly transcends the others, "I am struck by one quality that [does] seem both distinctive and noteworthy," Goodall notes. "It's that so many of these homes accommodate a particular lifestyle associated with the outdoors—of dogs and horses, of muddy boots and riding crops. The result is that grand architecture and objects of great beauty are often mixed informally with the prosaic and the practical. In this mix, English country houses become homes as well."

To sum up, this is a must-have for decorators, architects, designers "and the many armchair travelers who fantasize about revitalizing or recreating their own castle on the hill."