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Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History
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Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  124 ratings  ·  11 reviews
The English country house has flourished over the centuries because of its ability to adapt to the changes in English society. This book is an account of the ways in which the upper-class life style were reflected in the houses in which the wealthy and powerful lived. First published in 1978, this is a history of the English country house from the point of view of its owne ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 26th 1994 by Yale University Press (first published 1978)
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Richard Thomas
I suppose this is a seminal book which describes in almost loving detail the lives of the betters of English society. It is readable and fascinating about the utter contrast of life above and below stairs and the unthinking assumption of superiority of the well born.
Michael K.
Anyone who has read Jane Austen or Thackeray, or followed the adventures of Hercule Poirot, or has watched Gosford Park, has had some exposure to the cliché of the English country house and its denizens. There were large estates in medieval times, of course, but the country estate to which the wealthy (which usually meant the titled) could escape from the city, is largely an outgrowth of Henry VIII stripping the Church of its rural properties and turning them over to those families who had suppo ...more
Mary Catelli
I read this in combination with Life in the French Country House and am discussing them together. . . .

Both books start out with the medieval houses and households of lords and kings and lesser gentlemen and trace the history up to modern times. Which means, naturally, that they also trace the fortunes and practices of the nobility who lived in them. Not the same information for both. For instance, he talks about how one was supposed to become a French marquis or duke, or baron, or count: You ha
Actually re-reading this one. A great social history.
Liz Clappin
Dense, but still approachable. I'll admit, I skimmed most of the chapters on the medieval house, its just not an area that I'm interested in. When you have a 500 page history, sometimes you have to pick and choose. Girouard is best known for this work for a reason, its unbelievably comprehensive, and well researched from a diverse range of sources. The term "definitive work" gets thrown around a lot, but in this case this might just be it.
Brian Day
Excellent book which helped me in my undergraduate assignments.
A widely admired and often cited overview of the history of the English country house, those great houses of the landowning political, cultural, and economic elites, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. As culture and social structures change, the patterns of households and daily life change with them, so the spaces in which those lives are lived can provide a physical counterpart to other things. As a survey, the book necessarily skims over a lot of complex and important detail, but i ...more
Annie Oortman
I borrowed this book to do research for my first Regency romance. As a reader of history, I enjoyed the book very much. The book delves deeply into a wide variety of grand houses in England throughout history with pictures and floor plans to accompany excellent text.

However, as for gathering info for my research, I was disappointed. No much info was offered for that period of time.
Austen to Zafón
I remember reading this for a history class in college and really enjoying it. I wrote a paper about it and received a D, the first in my life. The prof couldn't say what exactly was wrong with my paper but summed it up by saying it was the paper of an English major, not a history major.
A.J.B. Johnston
I think this is a great piece of work. There is so much information the author has looked at -- architectural and documentary -- and he presents a narrative that is fascinating to read.
Lynn Calvin
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