Land. Country houses. Land as fuel and it's house as engine. This world is gone. Better: this world is gone in Western Europe.
I'm fascinated by country houses. I love to look at them. Just like I love to look at an old woman. The grey hair. Mysterious eyes. Wrinkles. Guess how she looked like in her twenties. Curious for her tears, fears, good and bad days, her personal history and her memories. Wondering what secrets she has and never will share with anyone. more
Quote - Mark Girouard, Life in the English country house (1978) p. 2-3:
"For many centuries the ownership of land was not just the main but the only sure basis of power. (...) From the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century anyone who had made money by any means, and was ambitious for himself and his family, automatically invested in a country estate.
Land, however, was little use without one or more houses on it. Land provided the fuel, a country house was the engine which made it effective. It archived this in a number of ways. It was the headquarters from which land was administered and power organized. It was a show-case, in which to exhibit and entertain supporters and good connections. In early days it contained a potential fighting force. It was an image-maker, which provided an aura of glamour, mystery or success around it's owner. It was visible evidence of his wealth. It showed his credentials - even if the credentials were sometimes faked. Trophies in the hall, coats of arms over the chimney-pieces, books in the library and temples in the park could suggest that he was discriminating, intelligent, bred to rule and brave."
These days country houses are the private seats of rich and famous people. No longer an engine. A place where families live their private life behind walls. Not open to the world and radiating it's power but show the world it's back.