The English country house
is a large house
in the English countryside. Such houses were often in the ownership of an individual who also owned a London house allowing time to be spent in the country and in the city - hence, for these people, the term was to distinguish between town and country. However, the term also encompasses those houses which were, and often still are, the full time residence for the landed gentry
. These people were central to the squirearchy
which ruled rural Britain until the Reform Act 1832
.As documented in The Purefoy Letters, 1735–53
by L. G Mitchell. Frequently the formal business of the counties
was transacted in these country houses.
With large indoor and outdoor staffs, country house were important as places of employment for many rural communities. In turn, until the agricultural depressions of 1870s, the estates, of which country houses were the hub, provided their owners with incomes. However, the late 19th and early 20th centuries were to be the swan song of the traditional English country house lifestyle, increased taxation and the results of World War I were to result in the demolition of thousands of houses
, those that remained had to adapt to survive.
The stately homes of England
The term "stately home" is subject to debate and indifferent use, and avoided by historians and other academics. As a description of a country house, the term was first used in a poem by Felicia Hemans
, The Homes......