Felling the Ancient Oaks: How England Lost Its Great Country Estates

Felling the Ancient Oaks: How England Lost Its Great Country Estates


By (author) John Martin Robinson

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  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd
  • Format: Hardback | 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 216mm x 290mm x 24mm | 1,238g
  • Publication date: 1 April 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1845136705
  • ISBN 13: 9781845136703
  • Illustrations note: 200 black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 158,700

Product description

A stunning visual record of our most spectacular and scenic country estates that were broken up for sale and lost for ever. A sweeping country estate, with grand house and spectacular gardens and park, would not be the first impression of a visitor to modern suburban Watford. But well into the twentieth century that was exactly what was there - the magnificence of the Cassiobury estate, of which only a modest municipal park survives. Underneath the expanse of Rutland Water lies the once splendid Normanton estate, while Deepdene in Surrey is now memorialised only by an ugly office block. Fortunately, at least photographs live on to remind us of how our landscape looked before death duties, mining subsidence and sometimes the plain impecuniousness of the black sheep in the family took their toll and forced the break-up of all too many historic landed estates. In this elegiac book, a successor to Aurum's Lost Victorian Britain, John Robinson surveys 20 of the most egregious losses, from Costessy in East Anglia to Lathom in Lancashire, and shows how the deer park, the home farm, the parterre and the cottage garden gave way to the power station, the motorway and the caravan park.

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Author information

Dr John Martin Robinson is an historian and author whose many works include studies of the Wyatts and the architecture of recent country houses. Among his most recent books is The Regency Country House, published by Aurum. He serves as Maltravers Herald Extraordinary, one of Her Majesty's Officers of Arms, and is Librarian to the Duke of Norfolk.

Review quote

'Mr Robinson provides an important introduction whose elegiac tone must not be regarded as undermining its historic acuteness.' Contemporary Review THis book is a particularly powerful and poignant reminder that a house - whether grand or modest - is so much more than bricks and mortar This England 'A poignantly illustrated volume. Robinson writes with passion of the fate of ancient landed families...there are numerous spellbinding illustrations.' - Marcus Binney, Architecture Correspondent The Times 'An eloquent study of some 20 'lost' estates. Dr Robinson is a distinguished architectural historian. There can be few people better placed to tell this story. His introductory essay should be read by anyone interested in the history of land-owning in England.' - Jeremy Musson Country Life magazine 'Stunning visual record of our most spectacular and scenic country estates...magnificent book.' 9/10 Lancashire Evening Post 'An extremely handsome volume packed to the rafters with fascinating stories and stunning images of now-vanished stately homes...a great book all round' Morpeth Herald 'Informative, trenchant and often poignant book.' Eastern Daily Press 'There is something compelling and evocative about abandoned, lost or ruined homes that appeals to the voyeur in all of us, and this book hits that sweet spot again and again. It is gloriously illustrated with some mesmerising black-and-white pictures of the houses in the pomp. This is the world of Downton Abbey brought to life, or rather death, and all the more interesting for that. Every chapter could form a mini-series in its own right. The accompanying text is a joy, shot through with nostalgia for what has been lost and a disdain for the modern horrors.' Welovethisbook.com 'Beautifully rendered book' Five stars***** Yorkshire Evening Post 'Magnificent...this treasure trove of history offers a stunning and heart-breaking photographic record of our most spectacular and scenic country estates' Lancashire Evening Post 'This book doesn't just tug one's heart-strings but yanks them heartily...beautifully illustrated' The Field