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.

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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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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