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 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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Where the wildly rich things live; country houses of the 2014 Rich List UK Top 10

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a billionaire in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a country house.  Or so it used to be.  The annual Sunday Times Rich List (£) is always a fascinating insight into the upper … Continue reading

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Purchasing the picturesque: Hampton Court and Lasborough Park for sale

What is beauty? Though it is often in the eye of the beholder, some have attempted to define just what it is. In architecture, this can be seen in the development of the Picturesque ideal which sought to combine natural … Continue reading

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The finest SAVE, now for sale: Barlaston Hall, Staffordshire

The wholesale destruction of UK country houses in the 1930s and 1950s was undoubtedly a tragic waste; not only of materials but also the embodied beauty and history of the hundreds of houses lost. Barlaston Hall, recently launched on the market … Continue reading

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