Merry Christmas!

Castle Howard, Yorkshire (Image: Tricky via Flickr)
Castle Howard, Yorkshire (Image: Tricky via Flickr)

I started updating this blog regularly in January 2010 so it has been fascinating and humbling to see over the past year just how many others share my love and interest in UK country houses. So, thank you to all those who have visited and a particular thanks to the many kind people who have shared information and commented on the various stories – it is very much appreciated.

The blog will be back next year with more stories about the glories of our country houses, updates on the threats they face, and anything else related.  I’m also aiming to visit more houses (including a trip to Derbyshire to see the Cavendish houses and others) and highlighting those which come up for sale in Country Life magazine and elsewhere.  There will naturally be fewer updates over the next couple of weeks so I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2011!


23 thoughts on “Merry Christmas!

  1. James Canning December 24, 2010 / 23:51

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Michael December 25, 2010 / 07:19

    Merry Christmas! I’m from Canada, and this is one of my favourite blogs to follow. Please keep up the great stories and insights!

  3. alex December 25, 2010 / 11:17

    Merry Christmas! Love this interesting and informative blog. Long may it run.

  4. ldm December 25, 2010 / 17:25

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well. And many thanks for your blog and the hard work you put into it.

  5. Hilary Huckstep December 26, 2010 / 08:54

    Thank you Matthew for keeping us up-to-date with the latest travesties of planning, etc. round this amazing country of ours. Like most people I suspect I have not been able to read every post in depth but have tried to follow the more local ones to where I live.
    Best Wishes for the New Year

  6. Norman December 26, 2010 / 17:12

    Many Thanks Matt for your efforts in maintaining such an interesting blog – and best wishes for the New Year. Seeing Castle Howard and the freezing conditions at the moment make me thankful I no longer have a large house to heat!

  7. john kilbourne December 26, 2010 / 18:36

    Merry Christmas to you too! Thanks for the great work.

    I’d like to see more information, or a central registry, of country houses where lodging is available. That would make it easier for us folks to help support costs by staying in the houses.

    Thanks, and good continued luck.


    • Andrew December 27, 2010 / 13:17

      John, there are a number of registries, depending on your budget, location and preferred type of country house. Wolsey Lodges (over 160 houses) and Alastair Sawday (over 750 houses) tend to cover the high end, while the AA B&B guide book and online search covers the full range (over 3,000 houses).

  8. Andrew December 27, 2010 / 13:22

    Matt, thank you for all your efforts in sharing with us your knowledge, resources and enthusiasm for country houses over the past year. I find it perplexing that with so many people, not only in the UK but also around the world, interested in grand country houses, there are so few blogs or forums dedicated to discussing them, and little or no way to find news items on RSS feeds or search engine keywords, at least as a whole subject, rather than about a specific house or organisation. The only other comparable one that I am aware of was the Vitruvius Publishing News by Neil Guy, split between restoration and sales, which sadly only ran for about 18 months in 2004-5 (about the same length of time this blog has now run, almost exactly 5 years later, but with only a fraction of the articles posted here), highlighting how difficult and demanding the task is, both on your time and commitment. So thank you, Matt, for leading the way in reviving this broad analysis and consolidating the relevant news into one place, and having the stamina to keep it going. Merry Christmas and a happy and productive New Year.

  9. David Rosemont December 29, 2010 / 14:31

    Just up after dislocating my knee and now facing surgery- no driving for four months perhaps. Keep up the good work. I fear for many of the national assets as the continuying economic pessimism and need for the right message mean that lavish displays of personal wealth are definitely “de trop”. The mood is one of austerity but let’s be optimistic!

  10. Andrew January 4, 2011 / 13:08

    My favourite photo of the holiday season, rather than being of the cold clean white snow on an exterior, is of a warm dining room ready for a Christmas meal, such as at Blenheim Palace in the Saloon, with the Marlborough family’s traditional Christmas table setting.

  11. countryhouses January 4, 2011 / 16:11

    @Andrew – what a wonderful photo; I certainly envy (in the nicest possible way) anyone who is able to sit down to such a lavish setting.

    Thank you all (belatedly!) for your very kind comments – they are very much appreciated. I shall certainly try to build on the first year’s work and hopefully get more people interested in this fascinating subject. Please do feel free to suggest topics and I’ll see what I can do.

    Thank you all again


  12. Andrew January 5, 2011 / 12:02

    Matt, nice new Home-page header photo of Wentworth Woodhouse. I assume you took it when you visited the house last year. Some possible future topics could include:
    * Country houses in movies and TV dramas;
    * Architectural styles of country houses e.g. from Tudor to Victorian (or a series of one article per style);
    * Councils as owners and protectors of their local country houses;
    * Country houses converted into hotels; and
    * Status of new country house approvals and building.

    • countryhouses January 9, 2011 / 22:33

      Thanks Andrew for the suggestions – will see what I can do.

    • Andrew February 11, 2011 / 13:42

      Another possible article topic is the growing trend for family-owned country houses to be hired out for exclusive-use weekend house parties or week-long holiday venues. For example, Balfour Castle on the Orkney island of Shapinsay was a family-run hotel until it was sold in 2009 with 770 acres for around £2.7m and is now a family home available for private hire. The Category A-listed Castle was built in 1848 for David Balfour, 4th laird of Balfour and Trenaby, to the design of David Bryce as a calendar house, because it has 7 turrets for the days of the week, 12 exterior doors for the months, 52 rooms for the weeks, and 365 panes of glass for the days of the year.

  13. ldm January 5, 2011 / 13:19

    Matt now that you’ve changed the photo at the top of the page, perhaps you could tell me the name of the house in your previous photo? I studied several times, but could never identify it. Thanks.

  14. Andrew January 5, 2011 / 14:45

    ldm, if you right-click on the header image and select the Save Picture As option, the File name box gives the house’s name – Compton Verney.

    • ldm January 5, 2011 / 17:45

      Thanks Andrew. The stonework is very beautiful, and now I know where it is. 🙂

    • countryhouses January 9, 2011 / 22:33

      Thanks Andrew for helping. Compton Verney is a beautiful house which I visited a few years back – it’s now a very interesting art gallery. It’s also one which can be seen from the road – if the vegetation has been thinned out by the winter.

      As Andrew has spotted the new image is of the stunning Wentworth Woodhouse which I was lucky enough to visit last year as part of a private tour organised through the fantastic Georgian Group.

      Perhaps I’ll start making the header image filenames generic and run a competition to see who can identify the house?

  15. Andrew January 27, 2011 / 07:15

    Matt, it looks like you may get some friendly competition from the Heritage Forum created on 25 January (in its Houses and Stately Homes category), a companion to the British Listed Buildings website run by Mark Goodge, which we often use here as a reference link for country house listing details and map locations. It will be interesting to see how it progresses, and the types of discussions and comments it receives, although I gather it will mostly be about BLB-specific issues.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.