Giles Worsley (Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Historical Research, University of London)
Of all the photographs in the Country Life archive, none are more poignant than the images of houses that have been lost through demolition or fire. In a great number of cases, the photographs taken by the magazine for their weekly feature on country houses are the only record of many of the most important houses and interiors that were destroyed. From Uffington House, Lincolnshire, a fine Restoration house burnt in 1904, to the Rococo magnificence of Nuthall temple, Nottinghamshire, its site now buried under the M1 motorway, this book provides a moving testimony to one of the saddest chapters in English 20th century history. Giles Worsley's incisive text makes this more than just an elegy for lost glories. By studying the circumstances behind one hundred houses that have gone, he is able to explain why such a large number were destroyed in the last century. He explains how many houses were lost as great landowners, responding to economic and political changes, sold off secondary estates and demolished palatial houses of the nineteenth century. He also examines how chance played its part, with fire emerging as one of the chief causes of destruction. As the twentieth century recedes into history the story of the country house over the past hundred years becomes increasingly fascinating. England's Lost Houses is essential reading for all those seeking to understand what really happened.