The best books about country houses

James Peill Author Of The English Country House: New Format
By James Peill

The Books I Picked & Why

Highland Retreats: The Architecture and Interiors of Scotland's Romantic North

By Mary Miers

Book cover of Highland Retreats: The Architecture and Interiors of Scotland's Romantic North

Why this book?

Reading this book is like sheer escapism to the Highlands of Scotland. Beautifully illustrated, the author has an engaging style that carries you along as she tells the story of Highland lodges and how Scotland became the place to go to find rest and escapism as well as great sport. You come away seeing Scotland in a new light and wanting to spend August amongst the heather and hills. 


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The Story of the Country House: A History of Places and People

By Clive Aslet

Book cover of The Story of the Country House: A History of Places and People

Why this book?

The country house is a subject that has always fascinated me, but I’ve often struggled to define it accurately. Clive Aslet, former editor of Country Life magazine does a brilliant job of refining the topic into very readable, succinct, chapters filled with plenty of anecdotes and charming illustrations. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it all over again. 


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Madresfield

By Jane Mulvagh

Book cover of Madresfield

Why this book?

This book takes the reader on a journey back into the mists of time. I was fascinated by how one house can hold so many secrets, that the author, Jane Mulvagh, unravels as she tells her tale. Madresfield was the inspiration for Evelyn Waugh’s famous fictional house Brideshead, although the real story is much more complex and interesting. Inspired by this book, I included Madresfield as one of the ten houses in my own book. 


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Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832

By Stella Tillyard

Book cover of Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832

Why this book?

This book is a fascinating insight into the sisters of the 3rd Duke of Richmond and their lives played out among the country houses of England and Ireland. They were all brilliant letter writers, and although they were separated for long periods, kept up a constant correspondence. After reading it, I felt I knew the sisters personally, even though they had lived 250 years ago. It became an instant bestseller when it first came out over twenty years ago and was made into a film, with Julian Fellowes playing the 2nd Duke of Richmond. 


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The Country House: Past, Present, Future: Great Houses of The British Isles

By David Cannadine, Jeremy Musson

Book cover of The Country House: Past, Present, Future: Great Houses of The British Isles

Why this book?

This book combines superb photographs with scholarly text by two of the most eminent writers on the country house today, with additional essays by other authors who are respected experts in their fields.  I like nothing more than to just open it up and flick through the pages, dipping into the text and enjoying the images. The book is a beautiful object in itself. 


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