Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

The east front of Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, in the snow. (Image: National  Trust Picture Library)
The east front of Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, in the snow. (Image: National Trust Picture Library)

It’s that time of year when I especially wished that I actually lived in a country house; the decorations, the roaring fire, the snow on the parkland. That said, I am lucky enough to write about and visit them – in 2012 I saw:

…and Buckingham Palace, twice (bit of advice: if going, book the last time slot of the day – it’s quiet and a pleasure.  Going in the middle of the day, not so much). Most of these visits were through organisations such as the Georgian Group, the Irish Georgians, and the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain. They, and of course, the National Trust, do excellent work – both practical and scholarly – and are well-worth joining if you’d like to find out more.  I was also lucky enough to attend the Attingham Trust 60th Anniversary Conference which was a wonderful opportunity to meet some real experts and also, unexpectedly, some friends of the blog.

Of course, I remain grateful for the incredible interest shown by the tens of thousands of visitors to the blog who kindly read my articles and comment.  I always appreciate feedback and thank you for taking the time to do so.  In mid-December, the blog hit the milestone of 250,000 page views in a year – so the milestone is now a benchmark and I hope to bring our country houses to an even wider audience next year.  Thank you also to all those who have signed up by email and on Twitter (@thecountryseat), which has proved to be a useful channel for sharing snippets of news and connecting with those interested in houses specifically, and heritage generally.

More contributors?

In 2013, I’m aiming to build on the successes of the last few years.  Of course, there will be more articles, however, I’m conscious that the frequency has dropped, mainly due to my ever busier day job.  I’d be interested to have your thoughts on whether you would like to read articles by other contributors? I have written all of them so far (bar a brilliant piece on ruins by Jeremy Musson back in 2011) but there are many other writers out there who would undoubtedly bring greater and wider expertise on country houses.  At the moment, I write mainly about the architecture (especially the exteriors) but would you be interested in someone writing about say, plasterwork, on specific houses, the contents, or other aspects? I’d also be keen to hear what you would not be interested in reading about. It’s possible that the blog could become a platform for experts in their respective fields who may not wish to maintain their own blog or go down the academic journal route.  Anyway, it’s just a thought and I’d be keen to have your feedback either in the comments below or via email.

Thank you again for your interest and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2013.


10 thoughts on “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  1. Harry December 25, 2012 / 11:09

    I think it would be a fantastic idea to maybe have a monthly contribution by an expert in a particular field for example plasterwork, as you mentioned. I however think that you should definitely carry on with your articles as we all thoroughly enjoy reading them!
    Have a good Christmas

  2. James Canning December 25, 2012 / 19:04

    Merry Christmas to all.

    Additional contributors seems sensible. Snippets of family history always are welcome, to this reader of this very intersting site.

  3. Jack Plane December 26, 2012 / 05:36

    I echo the previous comments. The broader the spectrum, the better as far as I’m concerned.

  4. Julian Spicer December 28, 2012 / 10:33

    I’m a new reader of this site, and am thoroughly enjoying it. Contributions from other experts in their fields would be good (whilst avoiding ‘lifestyle’ froth that we can so easily obtain in glossy magazines).

  5. Matthew Beckett - The Country Seat December 28, 2012 / 23:37

    Thank you for the feedback and I’m pleased that the idea has broad support. I can assure you, Julian, that there will be no ‘froth’ – the aim is to remain accessible but definitely academic. All articles are pitched to an educated level where not everything will be explained to leave room for further research for the reader – and also helps keep the word count reasonable! One thing I should also make clear is that I am not interested in paid for/placed articles by commercial organisations – I’m happy to obviously draw on the expertise of professionals but not advertorials. This is a blog for everyone but particularly those with a deeper interest in country houses who may work in heritage, or own a country house, or, like myself, are just passionate amateur individuals.

    Initially, I will extend invitations to contacts I have but if anyone does have suggestions, please do feel free to email me and I can offer guidance as to what I’m looking for. Please do contact me before writing the article as it may save time as I will be strict about what I judge suitable in terms of content and style. This is a new direction so there will be a learning curve so please do feedback either via comments or email to me.

    Thanks again for all your interest and support.


  6. James Canning December 29, 2012 / 00:33

    Sensible programme!

  7. Luke Moloney December 29, 2012 / 00:50

    Matthew, your writing has given me, and so many, a huge amount of pleasure. Don’t stop. But other contributions would be good too, I dare say. Good luck with it! Many thanks – Luke.

    • Matthew Beckett - The Country Seat December 29, 2012 / 22:15

      Thanks Luke – always good to know that others find the articles interesting (and hopefully useful!). My intention with opening it up is certainly to give other experts a chance to share their passions with a receptive audience. If there are aspects you feel you (or anyone else) would like to see covered, please do let me know and I’ll try and find a suitable expert.

      Thanks again for your support.


  8. visitinghousesandgardens December 31, 2012 / 22:02

    Merry Christmas and happy New Year Matthew. For what it’s worth I think you should continue on as a one man band to avoid dilution. I really enjoy reading. Perhaps one day we’ll meet on a Georgian group trip…

  9. Andrew January 2, 2013 / 13:11

    Happy New Year everyone!

    For me, the beauty of country houses is in their fusion of many visual disciplines into a holistic collage of colour, style and quality craftsmanship. These components include the visual arts of architecture, decoration, furniture, objet d’art, gardens, landscapes, and the families and history that surround them. To focus mainly on just one aspect, such as architecture, is to not fully appreciate the full picture. So I would like to see more articles that focus on either one of these components as applied across a number of houses and styles/periods, or on one or two houses showing how these components blend to produce different effects, which makes the complete house unique. Perhaps in the past there has been an over emphasis on exterior architecture and less on interiors. However, that is of course the prerogative of a personal blog, and I would certainly not recommend someone writing about a topic that they are not passionate about and enjoy the research, and that is where guest posts may be appropriate to provide a well rounded blog coverage. Although, given how easy it is these days to start your own blog, it may be difficult to get good writers to contribute to someone else’s blog, unless it is a tailored adaptation of another blog, or a published article which is not online.

    Regardless, please keep up the good work!

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