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Subject: ‘Country House’
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Posted in Architecture, Country House, Famous landmarks, Historical articles, History, London on Wednesday, 20 March 2013
Charlton House in Greenwich is one of the finest Jacobean manor houses in England and the only one left in London after the bombing of Holland House during the Second World War.
A view of the Manor House at Charlton, built by Sir Adam Newton.
It was probably designed by John Thorpe, one of the earliest English architects, and was built for Sir Adam Newton between 1607-12. It contains several decorative details which associate the building with Henry, Prince of Wales, pupil of Sir Adam Newton and elder brother of the future Charles I.
Posted in Aviation, Country House, Disasters, Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, Transport on Wednesday, 27 February 2013
This edited article about aviation originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 162 published on 20 February 1965.
A picture history of Woburn Abbey shows the Flying Duchess (bottom row)
Think of the surprise and the raised eyebrows, and the exclamations of “Grandma, don’t be so silly” there would be. Much as we take airplanes for granted nowadays very few of us, let alone elderly ladies, ever learn to be pilots.
So you can imagine what a fuss there was nearly forty years ago when, at the age of sixty, the Duchess of Bedford, grandmother of the present Duke of Bedford, took up flying. And the even greater fuss there was some years later when she took off in her de Havilland Gypsy plane one day, disappeared, and was never seen again.
Back in the 1920s airplanes were not the smooth-travelling, streamlined affairs that they are today. Flying them was still an adventure. It was the age of pilots who set off across the world in tiny planes with cans of extra petrol stacked behind them, and little more than hope in their hearts and determination in their minds, to guarantee that they would land safely somewhere on the other side – in India, in Australia, in America.
It was the age of the pioneers and the trail-blazers. Colonel Lindbergh became one of the world’s heroes by making the first solo flight across the Atlantic from New York to Paris in 1927; Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia in 1930.
Flights like these helped to pave the way for the airliners of the future. The men and women who made them were dedicated to flying, to proving that there was no part of the world which could not be reached by air.
And at sixty the Duchess of Bedford, this remarkable woman with a rich husband and a famous name, a great house at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, and other homes in various parts of the country, decided that she was going to join them.
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Posted in Architecture, Art, Arts and Crafts, Country House, Famous landmarks, Historical articles, History, London on Wednesday, 30 January 2013
This edited article about Robert Adam originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 113 published on 14 March 1964.
The Adelphi was designed and developed by the Adam brohers
There was chaos in the Strand. Thousands of people were jamming the Thames Embankment. All over central London the horse-drawn traffic was held up and thrown into confusion.
All the trouble was caused by sightseers flocking to see one of the greatest re-development schemes ever undertaken. The four Adam brothers, Robert, James, John and William, were rebuilding a whole section of central London.
The date was 1769, and even then London was suffering from that bursting-at-the-seams feeling that characterizes the city’s development today. That was why the Adam brothers, all famed architects, had produced their ¬£140,000 scheme for rebuilding a riverside area at the back of the Strand, one of London’s busiest and most crowded streets.
And what a plan! New buildings and roads were to be laid on top of a great platform supported by arches – and the site was to incorporate wharves and storage facilities for goods brought up the Thames by ship.
But the bold plan of the Adam brothers was dogged by ill-luck. First, to make it work, it was necessary to reclaim land from the Thames, but the Corporation of the City of London refused the brothers’ permission to drain part of the river.
Furious, Robert Adam, the architectural genius of the quartet, lobbied Members of Parliament. A Bill was passed to give the brothers permission to drain the land, and the work went steadily on.
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Posted in Architecture, Country House, Historical articles, History, Scotland, Sea on Tuesday, 31 July 2012
This edited article about Dunrobin Castle originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 757 published on 17th July 1976.
Admirers of landscaped gardens and baronial-style houses will find much to enjoy at Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, Sutherland in Scotland
An excellent example of the Scottish baronial style is Dunrobin Castle, which is perched on the edge of an escarpment looking south over the North Sea.
Constructed of elegant stone, it has balustraded terraces and stairways which were designed for the steep slope on which it stands by Sir Charles Barry in the mid-19th century.
These provide vantage points from which visitors can see the elaborate parterres with their beautiful flower beds and paths running between them.
Three separate parterres have been laid out on level ground, each having its pool and fountain as a central feature and beds lined with box shrubs.
More cones and mop-heads of box accent the design and each parterre has its own special shape. One is circular and the other two are rectangular. These are separated by dense belts of shrubs.
Today they are planted with free-flowering floribunda roses, and a long border beneath the terrace wall glows with colour from perennial plants that delight the eye.
Posted in Country House, English Literature, Historical articles, History on Sunday, 22 July 2012
This edited article about Rudyard Kipling originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 754 published on 26 June 1976.
‘Recessional’ was the poem written by Kipling for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897
Sussex is a beautiful county and there are few more beautiful stretches of Sussex than the area surrounding Burwash.
A country house in East Sussex, known as Bateman’s, became, for twenty years the home of Rudyard Kipling. It was here that he wrote many of his collected volumes of short stories, including “Puck of Pook’s Hill” and “Rewards and Fairies.”
The gabled sandstone house with tall, brick chimneys, dates back to 1634. There appears to be no record of the builder, but he was, no doubt, one of the local iron masters.
This was when Burwash was a centre of the Sussex smelting industry, although the industry has been defunct since the 18th century.
Kipling had travelled all over the globe, South Africa, America, Canada and India, and seemed destined never to put down roots of any sort. But after years of travel, he settled at Bateman’s in the early years of this century.
He restored the house and created the charming garden and in the process, became greatly attached to this part of the country. As he said himself:
“God gave all men all earth to love,
But since our hearts are small,
Ordained for each, one spot should prove beloved over all.
Each to his choice, and I rejoice
The lot has fallen to me
In a fair ground – in a fair ground,
Yes, Sussex by the sea.”
Posted in Architecture, Country House, Famous battles, Famous landmarks, Historical articles, History on Saturday, 21 July 2012
This edited article about Blenheim Palace originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 753 published on 19 June 1976.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, near Oxford, is principally renowned as being the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, but its origins date back to the time of Henry I when it was the main hunting lodge for Wychwood Forest.
It was still standing when Queen Anne conferred the estate on John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, to commemorate his victory at Blenheim over Louis XIV of France in 1704.
The actual building stretched over a number of years. Vanbrugh, the noted architect, began the construction in 1705. To cover most of its erection, the then enormous sum of £500,000 was granted by Parliament.
The park and lake which were originally designed by Queen Anne’s gardener, Henry Wise, were later redesigned by the well-known landscape gardener “Capability” Brown.
Posted in Architecture, Art, British Countryside, Conservation, Country House, Famous landmarks, Historical articles, History on Wednesday, 30 May 2012
This edited article about Britain’s country houses originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 714 published on 20 September 1975.
Knole, one of England’s most beautiful country houses
Most of us live in small houses, semi-detached or at best, detached. But for centuries past, there have always been some people who could afford to build and keep up Great Houses, sometimes called Stately Homes. Norman castles may be the most imposing examples of Britain’s architecture, because of the impression they give of having been designed to resist siege and protect their occupants. But our Great Houses represent peace, not war. They were built as homes, not strongholds. They were made beautiful inside and out, set in gardens and parklands, and filled with treasures.
Some of them are vast. Take Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, for instance. The building itself covers seven acres, (2 hectares) and is set in 2,500 acres (1,010 hectares) of parkland. It took seventeen years to build, and the stone came from no fewer than twenty quarries. It was a gift to John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough who was victor over the French at Blenheim. Queen Anne herself was the giver. A descendant of the Duke, Sir Winston Churchill, was born there almost exactly 101 years ago.
Older by a century and a half, is Burghley House in Northamptonshire. It was built in 1552 by Elizabeth I’s Lord High Treasurer, and is occupied by his descendants to this day. Its grounds are so large that the wall surrounding them is seven miles (11 kilometres) in length. Its Marquetry Room, Green Damask Room, Purple Satin Bedroom and other rooms are filled with priceless furniture, pictures and objects d’art.
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Posted in Architecture, Castles, Country House, Historical articles, History on Friday, 25 May 2012
This edited article about Arundel Castle originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 712 published on 6 September 1975.
In 1139 Matilda was famously permitted to retire from Arundel Castle with all her retainers by her rival, Stephen. Picture by James E Doyle
Arundel Castle, the chief feudal stronghold of the Sussex coast, was built in or before the reign of Edward the Confessor, (1005-66), who was the son of Ethelred the Unready.
The round “shell keep” contained the original quarters, and represents the typical abode of a Norman baron. The barbican towers were built by Richard Fitzalan, first Earl of Arundel. They still show the marks of cannon balls fired by the Parliamentarian artillery in the siege of 1643.
The Fitzalan tombs in Arundel church which itself dates from the 15th century, are magnificent. The downland park and surrounding countryside provide a fitting setting for this marvellously preserved piece of feudal history.
It is possible to spend a whole day touring the magnificent interiors, not forgetting a visit to the dungeon, which can be quite eerie, even during the daytime!
The castle occupies a superb position overlooking the River Arun. It contains furniture from the 15th century and portraits by Gainsborough, Holbein, Van Dyck, etc.
Posted in Architecture, Arts and Crafts, Conservation, Country House, Historical articles, History on Thursday, 24 May 2012
This edited article about Belton House originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 711 published on 30 August 1975.
Some stately homes have such a magnificent exterior that they tend to make visitors feel ill at ease, but this is not so at Belton House. Large though it may be, this manor house still preserves an air of homely domesticity.
Belton is a fine Restoration country house which was built in 1685 and is attributed to Sir Christopher Wren. The great merits of Belton House are its dignity and comfort. The interiors, although not as spectacular as other better-known mansions, are decorated with fine plaster work and woodcarving.
Some of these were done by Grinling Gibbons (1648-1720), the famous English woodcarver who was also responsible for the magnificent decorations at Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth and Petworth.
The interior planning of the rooms has not been altered and the rooms as they can be seen at present, give an excellent idea of a rich squire’s house at the end of Charles II’s reign.
Towards the end of the 18th century, James Wyatt did some work in the house, including the redecoration of the library and the boudoir.
Belton House also possesses a number of Duke of Windsor souvenirs.
Belton is situated 2 and a half miles, (4 km.) north-east of Grantham.
Posted in Architecture, Country House, Historical articles, History, London on Wednesday, 23 May 2012
This edited article about Chiswick House originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 710 published on 23 August 1975.
A general view of Chiswick House
This unusual-shaped villa was built by Lord Burlington in 1725. It embodied his own individual ideas on architecture and was designed more as a repository for his collection of paintings and drawings, than as a place to live in.
Later, it came into the possession of the 5th Duke of Devonshire and was enlarged in 1788. Since then, it has been elaborately restored and it is possible to visit and take pleasure in the highly-wrought plan and colourful rooms.
Some of the original contents are on loan from the Duke of Devonshire. Many of the original garden buildings still survive and enable the visitor to imagine what the setting of the house must have been in Lord Burlington’s day.
Lord Burlington derived at least some of his inspiration from the 16th century Italian Andrea Palladio. The interior decorations were done by the noted decorator, William Kent.