17 December 2013

the British are Coming

Three of the most exciting books this Fall that I've added to my library are An Exuberant Catalogue of Dreams, An English Room, and The English Country House. It assuages some of the wanderlust I have for an extended trip to England.

The Great Staircase at Badminton

"For hundreds of years generation after generation of the families that built these rarely seen houses, has added to the delights seen within and without" -Min Hogg

from The English Country House- Milton in Cambridgeshire-above the flower room full of hunting gear, and below the hounds in the Milton kennel.

The English Country House explores ten of Britain's grand houses-still owned by descendants of the original owners. Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes writes the forward  (who better?) "A house that has never been sold tells a complete and unbroken story in a way that is virtually impossible to replicate in a house that has changed hands. The lives of the owners' forebears are present on every side, not only in their portraits hanging on the walls but also in the more mundane everyday items."

detail of the Chinese Room at Milton

The Great Drawing Room at Badminton

Always captivating-the photographs of Derry Moore are the subject of An English Room. The book opens up the homes & retreats of some of Britain's most distinguished subjects, and offers a glimpse of that ultimate quest we all seek-A Room of One's Own. Paul Smith, P.D. James, Benedict Cumberbatch (eye catching on the cover) Tim Knox, Stephen Fry-and a number of others-talk about what makes them- and their rooms tick-and what makes their rooms are so very British.

 The duality of the book-with both interior design, and Moore's portraits-make it a necessary addition to your "O to Be in England" book shelf.

Actor Cumberbatch is photographed in the Library of The Garrick Club in London.

The last book on the list-and another must have- is An Exuberant Catalogue of Dreams-The Americans Who Revived the Country House in Britain. The cast of eighteen in this Dream book, created the "country house look." Prominent are Nancy Astor and her niece Nancy Lancaster, Chips Channon, Willie James and Lady Baillie.

One can never have too many books-especially if they take us England!

O to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!
-Robert Browning


  1. Wonderful recommendations Gaye. I just finished paging through The English Country House! I have a terrible crush on Cumberbatch and will add An English Room to my book list!

    The Arts by Karena

    1. Benedict-Divine, and I seldom use that word! adore comes to mind too! pgt

  2. Thank you for this post, Gaye! I am going to have to build more bookshelves! All best regards- Daniel

  3. Books, books and more books--bring them on.

    1. always-Little augury has the something of a book blog about it! pgt


    When I started decorating almost 44 years ago....there were 4. My mother, who so encouraged me to follow this career; bought them for me! I still treasure them!


    THIS YEAR is sure to bankrupt! Magnificent! Beautiful!

    I do have to say I have a favorite! "Mario Buatta" by EEE. I think it is my favorite book I have ever read! (It surpassed "Wuthering Heights" but after all these years in the business......it is understandable!!)

    MORE BOOKSHELVES!!! You sure couldn't read "Mario Buatta" (it weighs 7 pounds!!!) on a "kindle"!!

    (He swore at the Hollyhock book-signing that his shoulder was sore! However; I don't believe him! He looks fantastic!)

    And IS Fantastic! I could move into any of his rooms.....(some 50 years old) with my toothbrush; and not even change a lampshade! That is decorating as I think it should be!! "Timeless"!!!

    This is a rare; and I am fearful a disappearing thing. "Disposable decorating" seems to be happening! EEEK!

    My daughter has her grandmother's (my mother's ) upholstered furniture! Better made than most today!

    when you move; you dispose of the furniture! Yikes!! I still have an azalea in a large pot that has been with me for 60 years!
    (I have a picture of me next to this plant in a smaller pot when I was 6! These are treasures of a lifetime! And as Mario says, far better than I, "Your house should be a scrapbook of your life! And all the memories associated!!"

    I so believe that!!

    1. You are right Penelope. I remember some of my first books on design. So good-and I have kept them. So many in the last 5 years-I have been disappointed in, those I pass on-or sell. O MARIO! has a ring of the sacred about it. Love it to pieces. pgt

  5. What? No kindle on an original Morris & Co. piece? Just when I think I am turning Japanese, I see an English Country place and know that is where I want to be.

    1. Donna, I feel your pain. I have taken to a kindle for my quick reads-books I don't feel warrant the precious space on a bookshelf. I have even purchased several I read on the Kindle because that mode of reading became unacceptable-bios-memoirs-etc. I know I belong in England-ask myself frequently-What am I waiting for? pgt

  6. Thank you for these recommendations. I had thought that there couldn't possibly be another book on English Country Houses to add to my already groaning library of them. Now I have found (at least) two. Must order them immediately! Reggie



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