I was recently in Surrey moving my belongings into my new house where I will be living while at university. There was no wifi and no television, so I spent many an hour browsing through Simon Jenkins’ England’s Thousand Best Houses.
My university happened to be featured, (and is also the featured image of this post) but all that reading got me thinking about the true wonder of the English house. Jenkins includes huge castles and grand baroque splendour in his picks as well as run down and crumbling ruins and seemingly ordinary houses such as those belonging to the Beatles (located in my hometown.) Yet somehow they are all equally as fascinating.
One of my favourite English stately homes used to be Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, but when I visited it for afternoon tea on my birthday this year it seemed to have lost a great deal of its charm. My favourite kind of house is when it is fully restored, and not just a building used to house a dizzying array of artefacts that belonged to the original owners.
But Founders building (see above) never loses its appeal to me. From the first time I saw it to when I climbed up a set of its stone stairs just two days ago, it still remains beautiful and unattainable, even though I have stood within its grounds many times. And isn’t that what the English stately home is truly about? We can ponder and reflect and even attempt to emulate what we see within these houses, but they remain far away, quietly reminding us that the history that lives on within their walls is not easily achieved.