"Life in the English Country House" by Mark Girouard

Life in the English Country House A Social and Architectural History Mark Girouard

Publication date:
18 Nov 1993
Yale University Press
352 pages: 195 x 254 x 19mm
226 b&w llustrations, 33 colour plates, index

The English country house has flourished over the centuries because of its ability to adapt to the changes in English society. This book is an account of the ways in which the upper-class life style were reflected in the houses in which the wealthy and powerful lived. First published in 1978, this is a history of the English country house from the point of view of its owners and users. Ranging from the Middle Ages to the world of Evelyn Waugh, the author also discusses and illustrates how the life of the upper classes shaped their country hosues, how they entertained and were served, how they ran the country and their estates and how they reconciled personal privacy and public display.

 Read more about Mark Girouard, architectural writer, an authority on the country house, architecture historian and biographer.

"[Girouard] is eloquent and knowledgeable, but never condescending. As a guide to this lost world, he lets its beauty come through in well-chosen, unobtrusive sentences. . . . [He] is devoted to preserving the best things of the past."--Michael Shelden, New York Times Book Review

"There is not a dull or ill-considered page in this delightful book; by turns serious, amusing, passionate, and instructive, Mark Girouard is a writer among scholars."?Kerry Downes, Times Literary Supplement

"A handsome and well illustrated volume. . . . What makes this book essential on the bookshelf is the Introduction."?Gavin Stamp, Architectural Review

"Girouard never fails to reveal the human or social elements in architecture, and he writes with wit and style. Handsomely produced . . . this is a book for both the scholar and the general reader."?Choice

"This book makes for enjoyable reading. Those who appreciated Girouard?s earlier Life in the English Country House will appreciate his continuing in the same vein."?Library Journal

"The best guide to England that any tourist, not to mention architectural historian, could wish for. . . . Girouard brings alive the drama of English life in previous centuries. His epilogue rails at the planners and architects of our times who have helped devastate the English town."?Meir Ronnen, Jerusalem Post

"An elegant and clear mixture of erudition and anecdote. . . . This is a book which can be read with pleasure from cover to cover or dipped into and enjoyed in bits."?John Martin Robinson, Apollo Magazine

"This book is beautifully produced. . . . It is both fun to look at and beguiling to read. . . . This is a rich and wonderful book."?Harry Schalck, American Perspective

Winner of the 1979 W.H. Smith and Son Annual Literary Award

"A deeply important book, one of the most interesting contributions to architectural history."?J. H. Plumb, The New York Review of Books


"A survey of country houses through the past five centuries, from a broad range of materials: family archives, literature, plans and photographs.... The book itself is a physical artifact of surpassing beauty which could fit on the grandest table in the houses it describes."?David Hackett Fischer, The New Republic


"Informative, balanced, knowledgeable, and witty."?The New Yorker


"This enthralling and immensely informative book...tells with wit, scholarship, and lucidity how the country house evolved to meet the needs and reflect the social attitudes of the times."?Philip Ziegler, The Times


"One of those very useful and very enjoyable books that the learned can seldom write, and the entertaining seldom achieve?clear, detailed, and witty."?Angus Wilson, The Observer

"This splendid book, magnificently illustrated . . . may help to save a splendid heritage, a moth-balled monument to an aristocracy, that in Mark Girouard's gloomy concluding words has 'lost the coherence of an integrated and powerful class which knew the kind of buildings it wanted and had the confidence and money to provide them."?Raymond Carr, Spectator 

"This is a beautifully illustrated, fully documented and imaginative book, to be warmly recommended to librarians for their academic students."?Eric Church, Times Educational Supplement (London)

"Architectural historian Mark Girouard has opened up an absorbing and highly promising field of study by looking into the social arrangements that shaped the country house from the Middle Ages onward. . . . A thoroughly intelligent and engaging book."?Kirkus Reviews 

"For anyone enamored of the real estate advertisements for English country estates in the 88-year-old Country Life magazine, Mark Girouard's Life in the English Country House is mandatory reading. Girouard in 318 fascinating pages traces the appearance of the English country house from the Middle Ages to beyond 1900. With several other well-received architectural history books to his credit, Girouard aptly wields a style marrying broad, sweeping concepts with a multitude of facts and details."?Philip Hayward, Preservation News

"A huge nugget for anyone with a penchant for learning about English country life, mansions and castle."?Los Angeles Times Book Review

"A splendid book, beautifully printed with 256 illustrations, 32 of them in color, detailing over the centuries the changing plans of the houses and the social changes that produced them."?The Yale Review

"How the country house became the seat of power, from Elizabethan times to 1940?also how design reflected changing notions of grandeur and relaxation, and much else, including upstairs/downstairs competition for space. The illustrations are fine, the writing superb; Girouard knows his stuff, and proves it anything but dull. A brilliant, handsome, engrossing book."?Village Voice

"With the help of fine illustrations, Mark Girouard presents a splendid impression of the way of life in country houses from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. At every point the social history of the English aristocratic house is intimately bound up with the history of literature; and this study will be of immense interest to the student of literature."?Critical Quarterly

"A handsomely illustrated account of the evolution of the country house from the fortified dwelling to the stately home of this century. Girouard is expert on architecture and informative as to the habits of occupants."?Key Reporter

"Mark Girouard's Life in the English Country House is too good to be discussed in a paragraph. It is a life's work?the writing is scholarly, the illustrations beyond reproach. However it is a coffee table book?one to be treasured by its owner, read and returned to, but a coffee table book for all that?and is warmly recommended as one of the finest flowers of the genre."?Books and Bookmen

"This book will fascinate anyone who is curious about the changing habits of the upper classes. It will be useful to those who want to enrich modern architecture by clarifying the vestigial rituals and images which still engage modern men."?Anders Nereim, Journal of Architectural Education