With a huge range of different landscapes to choose from, England offers guests a rich tapestry of destinations to visit. In each area, you will find a different type of stone from which all the older English country houses and mansions were built. A big part of the allure of the Cotswolds, England’s most visited area, is the soft honey coloured stone which is so attractive and used throughout the area. There is one picture perfect village after another with endless cottages, rectories and manor houses built from this attractive limestone. With such an ancient history and colourful past, England boasts some of the finest mansions and country houses in the world, funded by fortunes made from trade, military glory or the empire.
From Elizabethan times, large country houses have been built to house aristocratic families and there are fine examples of each style available for LTR guests to stay in or visit. Longleat is obviously one of the great Elizabethan homes and Hatfield a lovely example of the later Jacobean style. The great Scots architects, the Adams brothers also made their mark in England with Georgian homes like Kenwood House, Kedleston and Luton Hoo which was later altered by Sir Robert Smirke. Indeed as in Scotland, many homes were added onto by later generations who needed space for even more servants. Unfortunately, some of the later wings that were added, as at Bowood or the Adam Wing at Nostell Priory, really created problems for their descendants as the houses became just too huge to maintain.
Many great English country houses did not survive the ravages of time, war and taxation but unlike most of continental Europe, England has not been invaded since 1066 and many of our great homes still retain their collections of art & furniture intact, together with huge tracts of land. LTR has carefully selected English mansions and country houses from different eras but largely of Victorian or Georgian design to offer their guests. The oldest Tudor and Elizabethan homes are generally not hugely comfortable, so we prefer homes from the Jacobean period onwards which have often been modernised to suit 21st Century needs. A manor house was historically the home of the lord of the manor. The house formed the administrative centre within the existing feudal system and its great hall would be used for the lord’s manorial courts, communal meals with tenants and great banquets with other guests. The term is today applied to various country houses, frequently dating from the late medieval era, which formerly housed what was known as the gentry, who were one pip down from the aristocracy, who lived in larger mansions or castles. The Squire who lived in the manor, would generally own all the surrounding land and be in charge of his community. LTR offers some wonderful manor houses and Cornwell Manor is one of our favourites. It is like something straight out of a Jane Austen novel!
Other favourite manor houses include Belton House which is of Carolean architecture and is England’s only true vernacular style house since the Elizabethan days. Easton Neston in Northamptonshire, the 1702 masterpiece by Nicholas Hawksmoor, a clever architect who also had a hand in Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard is also a favourite. From its stone lions marching along the roofline to its wildly attenuated windows, the ashlar building represents the domestic high point of the English Baroque, a flamboyant style that flowered briefly before Palladian stateliness took over. Prince Charles’s south Gloucestershire home Highgrove, built in 1796, is another glorious manor house with stunning gardens. Longhall in Stockton, Wiltshire is another example of a gentle manor house owned by the same farming family for centuries. Downton Abbey gave a helpful insight into the difference between a stately pile where Lord Grantham lived as depicted by Highclere, compared to the village manor house lived in by his mother the Dowager. Mansion houses can also be a term used in London and other large cities where large buildings have been divided up into apartments.
If you would like to find out more about some of the gloriously comfortable English country houses and mansions that we can offer our guests to stay in, please get in touch with us and we would be delighted to help you.