I gave a lecture at Christies Educational this week on the hiatus in the English country house in the 20th century, and revisited the fascinating and triumphal recoveries of Holkham and Chatsworth. But in many ways it is the new owners of smaller country houses who have done so much to recpature the pleasure of the country house way of life, spending fortunes on resuscitating older houses, giving them back their dignity and making them family homes again. I must have visited hundreds of examples of these in my years at Country Life.
For instance, I went on Monday to visit a handsome queen anne house in Kent which I was privileged enough to see shortly after the present owners had embarked on its restoration and redecoration. It has those handsome tall panelled rooms with tall windows that give the flavour of a French chateau, and every room has been carefully repaired and painted in tactful colours, warm and dark on one side of the house, light and reflective on the south side.
A whole new banqueting house in red brick rather in the manner of those at Wrest Park has risen in the garden since I was last here, a testimony to the vision of the new owners and the pride they take in breathing new life back into this fine house, and an elegant canal garden that happily doubles as a swimming pool.