Author Archives: Matthew Beckett - The Country Seat

About Matthew Beckett - The Country Seat

An amateur architectural historian with a particular love of UK country houses in all their many varied and beautiful forms.

William Kent, the reluctant Gothick

If asked what style of architecture one would associate with William Kent, one of the leading designers of the Georgian era, most would say Palladian and, if pushed, they might argue that his interiors are distinctly Baroque.  Yet Kent is … Continue reading

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Romancing the stone; country houses built by love

Many a man has been driven to great lengths by love – and architecture is often a rewarding though insatiable mistress for such a passion.  Whether as an expression of love for a wife or a demonstration of a yearning, … Continue reading

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Happy Birthday Sir John Vanbrugh; the master of English Baroque

One of the most exciting eras of British architecture was the Baroque; a unique fusion of Continental influences, leavened with a dash of characteristic restraint, which created something elegant, strident and theatrical – words which could equally describe the best … Continue reading

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A theatre of innovation: Cragside, Northumberland

One hundred and fifty years ago, as 1863 drew to a close, the great industrialist Lord Armstrong may have reflected on a year in which innovation was sweeping across so many areas of life and, perhaps, his own future plans … Continue reading

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

So the National Lottery or an hitherto-unknown-and-childless uncle have again failed to give me the route to my spending a Christmas in front of a roaring fire in my own country house drawing room.  That said, I have had the … Continue reading

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A deceptive bargain: Halswell House, Somerset

When newspaper stories appear with headlines such as ‘One of Britain’s ‘finest’ mansions for sale with guide price of £250,000‘, it guarantees that many will immediately start dreaming of exchanging their current home for the life of a country squire. … Continue reading

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A minor prodigy: Brereton Hall for sale

Advancement in Elizabethan society depended largely on being noticed by the Queen. In an age where the monarch wielded enormous powers of patronage and with so many others jostling for her attention, your house and the hospitality you could provide … Continue reading

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England’s most ‘at risk’ country houses; English Heritage 2013 report

Though he his House of polish’t marble built Yet shall it ruine like the Moth’s fraile cell.* There is a long tradition of the romanticisation of ruins and decay, but watching once grand houses slide into dereliction is thankfully now … Continue reading

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‘A land where it is always afternoon’; the life and talents of Philip Tilden

One of the finest skills an architect can possess and cultivate is that of charm; the art of turning an encounter into an acquaintance into a client – and sometimes even a friend.  Such a skill can offer a balance … Continue reading

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Guest article: ‘Sir Winston Churchill, Chartwell, and Philip Tilden’ – National Trust ‘Uncovered’

Some country houses are less of note than the people who were associated with them. For some, the architect will be the draw, but with a strange ‘Midas’-like power, any house associated with figures of great renown will always be … Continue reading

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