Life in the English Country House

A Social and Architectural History

Mark Girouard

View Inside Price: $30.00


January 26, 1994
352 pages, 8 x 10 1/2
204 b/w + 32 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300058703
Paper

This best-selling book is a beautifully illustrated history of the English country house from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. In it, renowned architectural historian Mark Girouard presents a rare and revealing glimpse of the English upper classes—their public and personal lives, their servants, and their homes.

 

"A deeply important book, one of the most interesting contributions to architectural history."—J. H. Plumb, The New York Review of Books

 

"A survey of country houses through the past five centuries, from a broad range of materials: family archives, literature, plans and photographs.... The book itself is a physical artifact of surpassing beauty which could fit on the grandest table in the houses it describes."—David Hackett Fischer, The New Republic

 

"Informative, balanced, knowledgeable, and witty."—The New Yorker

 

"This enthralling and immensely informative book...tells with wit, scholarship, and lucidity how the country house evolved to meet the needs and reflect the social attitudes of the times."—Philip Ziegler, The Times

 

"One of those very useful and very enjoyable books that the learned can seldom write, and the entertaining seldom achieve—clear, detailed, and witty."—Angus Wilson, The Observer

 

Winner of the 1978 Duff Cooper Memorial Prize and the W. H. Smith & Son Annual Literary Award for 1979.

 

Mark Girouard is one of Britain's leading architectural historians. His books include The English Town, Cities and People, The Victorian Country House, The Return to Camelot, Robert Smythson and the Elizabethan Country House, Victorian Pubs, Sweetness and Light, and Town and Country.

"[Girouard] is eloquent and knowledgeable, but never condescending. As a guide to this lost world, he lets its beauty come through in well-chosen, unobtrusive sentences. . . . [He] is devoted to preserving the best things of the past."--Michael Shelden, New York Times Book Review



"There is not a dull or ill-considered page in this delightful book; by turns serious, amusing, passionate, and instructive, Mark Girouard is a writer among scholars."—Kerry Downes, Times Literary Supplement

"A handsome and well illustrated volume. . . . What makes this book essential on the bookshelf is the Introduction."—Gavin Stamp, Architectural Review

"Girouard never fails to reveal the human or social elements in architecture, and he writes with wit and style. Handsomely produced . . . this is a book for both the scholar and the general reader."—Choice



"This book makes for enjoyable reading. Those who appreciated Girouard’s earlier Life in the English Country House will appreciate his continuing in the same vein."—Library Journal

"The best guide to England that any tourist, not to mention architectural historian, could wish for. . . . Girouard brings alive the drama of English life in previous centuries. His epilogue rails at the planners and architects of our times who have helped devastate the English town."—Meir Ronnen, Jerusalem Post


"An elegant and clear mixture of erudition and anecdote. . . . This is a book which can be read with pleasure from cover to cover or dipped into and enjoyed in bits."—John Martin Robinson, Apollo Magazine


"This book is beautifully produced. . . . It is both fun to look at and beguiling to read. . . . This is a rich and wonderful book."—Harry Schalck, American Perspective




"A deeply important book, one of the most interesting contributions to architectural history."—J. H. Plumb, The New York Review of Books

 

"A survey of country houses through the past five centuries, from a broad range of materials: family archives, literature, plans and photographs.... The book itself is a physical artifact of surpassing beauty which could fit on the grandest table in the houses it describes."—David Hackett Fischer, The New Republic

 

"Informative, balanced, knowledgeable, and witty."—The New Yorker

 

"This enthralling and immensely informative book...tells with wit, scholarship, and lucidity how the country house evolved to meet the needs and reflect the social attitudes of the times."—Philip Ziegler, The Times

 

"One of those very useful and very enjoyable books that the learned can seldom write, and the entertaining seldom achieve—clear, detailed, and witty."—Angus Wilson, The Observer

"This splendid book, magnificently illustrated . . . may help to save a splendid heritage, a moth-balled monument to an aristocracy, that in Mark Girouard's gloomy concluding words has 'lost the coherence of an integrated and powerful class which knew the kind of buildings it wanted and had the confidence and money to provide them."—Raymond Carr, Spectator 

"This is a beautifully illustrated, fully documented and imaginative book, to be warmly recommended to librarians for their academic students."—Eric Church, Times Educational Supplement (London)

"Architectural historian Mark Girouard has opened up an absorbing and highly promising field of study by looking into the social arrangements that shaped the country house from the Middle Ages onward. . . . A thoroughly intelligent and engaging book."—Kirkus Reviews 

"For anyone enamored of the real estate advertisements for English country estates in the 88-year-old Country Life magazine, Mark Girouard's Life in the English Country House is mandatory reading. Girouard in 318 fascinating pages traces the appearance of the English country house from the Middle Ages to beyond 1900. With several other well-received architectural history books to his credit, Girouard aptly wields a style marrying broad, sweeping concepts with a multitude of facts and details."—Philip Hayward, Preservation News

"A huge nugget for anyone with a penchant for learning about English country life, mansions and castle."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"A splendid book, beautifully printed with 256 illustrations, 32 of them in color, detailing over the centuries the changing plans of the houses and the social changes that produced them."—The Yale Review

"How the country house became the seat of power, from Elizabethan times to 1940—also how design reflected changing notions of grandeur and relaxation, and much else, including upstairs/downstairs competition for space. The illustrations are fine, the writing superb; Girouard knows his stuff, and proves it anything but dull. A brilliant, handsome, engrossing book."—Village Voice

"With the help of fine illustrations, Mark Girouard presents a splendid impression of the way of life in country houses from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. At every point the social history of the English aristocratic house is intimately bound up with the history of literature; and this study will be of immense interest to the student of literature."—Critical Quarterly

"A handsomely illustrated account of the evolution of the country house from the fortified dwelling to the stately home of this century. Girouard is expert on architecture and informative as to the habits of occupants."—Key Reporter

"Mark Girouard's Life in the English Country House is too good to be discussed in a paragraph. It is a life's work—the writing is scholarly, the illustrations beyond reproach. However it is a coffee table book—one to be treasured by its owner, read and returned to, but a coffee table book for all that—and is warmly recommended as one of the finest flowers of the genre."—Books and Bookmen

"This book will fascinate anyone who is curious about the changing habits of the upper classes. It will be useful to those who want to enrich modern architecture by clarifying the vestigial rituals and images which still engage modern men."—Anders Nereim, Journal of Architectural Education

"This truly fascinating and readable book tells of the life lived in the country houses from the Middle Ages to World War II. A social history, it describes how the people—owners and servants—lived on a day-to-day basis. It gives insights as well into the architecture of the various periods. the descriptions of the goings and comings, tyhe London social season and the journeys to spas, the entertaining of friends and disposition of rivals, the meals and the use of rooms, the politics and wars make this book most rewarding reading."—A. I. A. Journal

"The illustrations . . . are as sumptuous as anyone could ask, but Girouard has a lively curiosity about practical details."—Newsweek

"The detail will fascinate anyone who has a curiosity about social history and the changing habits of the classes. . . . A deeply important book, one of the most interesting contributions to architectural history for a decade."—J. H. Plumb, New York Review of Books

"A superbly informative book. . . . The illustrations, mainly architectural in theme, are excellent, and the text is highly detailed and intelligent without being in the least bit stodgy."—Ivan Dee, Chicago Tribune Book World

"Informative, balanced, knowledgeable, and witty."—New Yorker

"One of the most beautiful books published this year. . . . A survey of country houses through the past five centuries, from a broad range of materials: family archives, literature, plans and photographs. . . . The book itself is a physical artifact of surpassing beauty which could fit on the grandest table in the houses it describes."—David Hackett Fischer, New Republic

"Architectural historian Mark Girouard . . . has opened up an absorbing and highly promising field of study by looking into the social arrangements that shaped the country house from the Middle Ages onward. . . . A thoroughly intelligent and engaging book."—Kirkus Reviews

"Girouard has found a wealth of detail in account books, household inventories and books of etiquette, indicating a rather advanced household technology developed to support the elaborate lifestyle. A fascinating look at what went on both upstairs and downstairs."—Publishers Weekly

"As architectural interpretation, Girouard's book, with its wealth of examples and superlative colour plates, could not be bettered. As social history it is witty, hard-headed and wonderfully informative about life both above and below stairs."—New Society

"A luxurious tour through the country houses of the English elite from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. These seats of the ruling class, as Girouard illustrates, were built as evidence of wealth and power; not concerned solely with the architectural styles and devices that were employed, the author also explains how the homes were used by the families who found pleasure in them."—A. L. A. Booklist

"As a social study, the book makes delightful reading. But more importantly, it should be high on the list of both the student and the casual traveler to England who intends to share that country's greatest tourist attraction. The book is great, and happily it is also reasonably priced."—Phelps Warren, Antiques

"Engrossing. . . . Girouard makes the first attempt to relate the architecture of those great houses—among the supreme expressions of English art—to the lives that were lived in them by their noble masters and their armies of servants. . . . The illustrations are extraordinarily fine."—Washington Post Book World (Christmas Book issue)

"A pioneering work . . . [Girouard] has produced a stimulating, informative, and superbly illustrated account that opens the way for future investigations. . . . The book as a whole demonstrates the remarkable range and substance of Girouard's learning and research. His astute sampling of contemporary sources, literary and otherwise, provides a rich context of example and anecdote that vividly reinforces his own descriptions. . . . Life in the English Country House is so lively in its insights and examples, so entertaining written, that it has achieved the status of a scholarly best seller."—John Riely, Eighteenth Century Studies
 
 

 Winner of the 1979 W.H. Smith and Son Annual Literary Award

Winner of the 1979 W.H. Smith and Son Annual Literary Award

Winner of the 1979 Duff Cooper Memorial Prize