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.

A Webb of intrigue: one hundred years on from Philip Webb (1831 – 1915)

To mark the centenary of someone’s death may seem morbid but to be worth noting a century later they must truly have been a significant influence.  Philip Speakman Webb, who died in January 1915, certainly can occupy that pantheon of those architects … Continue reading

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Georgian Group Architectural Awards 2014

The efforts of those who choose, or inherit, the responsibility for the care of our nation’s heritage are often unacknowledged – and yet the custodians continue regardless.  Their dedication is such that they will make significant sacrifices in terms of … Continue reading

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The first architect? 400 years on from death of Robert Smythson

To be regarded as the first architect is quite an accolade and, in the UK, Robert Smythson is widely viewed as holding this title – but as with many things, this is not quite the whole story.  With competition from others … Continue reading

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A mansion tax is a pox on all our country houses

It’s a widely accepted principle that even if trying to achieve a noble goal, it is not a justification to do harm in doing so.  Whether one is trying to fund the NHS or provide kittens and puppies for all, if … Continue reading

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40 years on from the ‘Destruction of the Country House’ exhibition

Many was the time I stood in that exhibition watching the tears stream down the visitors’ faces as they battled to come to terms with all that had gone.’ – Sir Roy Strong [Diaries, 1974] In October 1974, one of the … Continue reading

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An architectural adventurer: Richard Norman Shaw

What hideous drawings! Did anyone ever see such Vulgar looking things – I am quite ashamed of them! Richard Norman Shaw‘s vehement criticism, annotating a set of drawings created by a clerk in his own office, shows the passion and perfection … Continue reading

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The glory of the great hall; Dundarave, Co. Antrim

Where is the centre of a country house? For some it may be a favoured study or library, or a sunlit parlour facing the gardens. Yet, from the time of the earliest large residential buildings, the great hall has often enjoyed … Continue reading

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