The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home

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9780300067033: The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home
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How much do the British really care about their stately homes? In this wide-ranging account of the changing fortunes and status of the stately homes of England over the past two centuries, Peter Mandler melds social, cultural, artistic and political perspectives and reveals much about the relationship of the nation to its past and its traditional ruling elite. Challenging the prevailing view of a modern British culture besotted with its history and its aristocracy, Mandler portrays instead a continuously changing and modernising society in which both popular and intellectual attitudes towards the aristocracy - and its stately homes - have veered from selective appreciation to hostility and only recently to admiration. Mandler adds the missing pieces to the story of the country house. Going beyond its architects and its owners, he brings to centre stage a much wider cast of characters - aristocratic entrepreneurs, anti-aristocratic politicians, campaigning conservationists, ordinary sightseers and voters - and a scenario full of incident and local and national colour. He traces attitudes towards the stately homes, beginning in the first half of the 19th century when public feeling about the aristocracy was mixed and divided. Criticism of the "foreign" and "exclusive" image of the typical aristocratic country house was widespread. At the same time, interest grew in those older houses that symbolised a golden age of imagined national harmony. The Victorian period also saw the first mass tourist industry and a strong popular demand emerged for the right to visit all the stately homes. By the 1880s, however, hostility toward the aristocracy made appreciation of many country house politically treacherous, and interest in aristocratic heritage declined steadily for sixty years. Only after 1945, when the aristocracy was no longer seen as a threat, was a gentle revival of the stately homes possible, Mandler contends, and only since the 1970s has that revival become an appreciation. He enters today's debate with a discussion of how far people today - and tomorrow - are willing to see the aristocracy's heritage as their own.

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From Library Journal:

This book surveys the complex interactions among culture, aesthetics, society, and politics on which the reputations of English country houses have risen and fallen over the past 200 years. It is a fascinating story of the ascent of the English estate in the Victorian period, the derision and neglect they experienced in the Edwardian age, and, ultimately, their restoration in the present era, as they beckon legions of postmodern tastemakers such as Ralph Lauren into their midst. Mandler (history, London Guildhall Univ.) writes like a dream, and he has successfully melded scholarship in many branches of history (the history of gardens, art, architecture, politics, economics, and more) into a coherent account free of nostalgia, sentiment, and cant. Excellent reading for informed readers.?Peter S. Kaufman, Boston Architectural Ctr.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Mandler, Mr. Peter
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