Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lost world: land as fuel and it's house as engine

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.

P.s. My blog 'History of castles. Development in 4 pictures'.
P.s.s. Picture is from Belton House.


  1. Deel je fascinatie voor country houses. Bracht eens een vakantie in Engeland door met het bekijken van verschillende ervan. Me telkens afvragend wat voor verhalen er soms achter zo'n huis schuil gingen. Vraag me naar aanleiding van je stukje wel af: zou men, in de tijd dat het country house nog wel the engine was het country house dan wel als open hebben ervaren? Was het ook in die tijd niet een "middel" om macht uit te stralen en te imponeren. En dan zeker ook diegenen te imponeren die de fysieke arbeid moesten verrichten om ervoor te zorgen dat het land zijn fuel opleverde.

  2. @IngFTh Open in de zin van een bijenkorf van activiteiten. Een plek waar mensen komen en gaan. Vroeger veel meer open dan nu. Ik denk dat we ons nu niet meer helemaal kunnen verplaatsen in toen. Destijds meer rangen en standen. Geen sociaal vangnet. Geen werk (bij de eigenaar van een House) betekende geen inkomen en dus geen brood op de plank.

  3. @IngFTh "The country house (...)providing employment to literally hundreds of people in the vicinity of its estate. In previous eras when state benefits were unheard of, those working on an estate were among the most fortunate, receiving secured employment and rent-free accommodation. (...) Until the 20th century, unlike many of their contemporaries, they slept in proper beds, wore well-made adequate clothes and received three proper meals a day, plus a small wage. In an era when many still died for lack of medicine or malnutrition, the long working hours were a small price to pay." Source:

  4. I'm also a big fan of country houses! If I could, I'd have one!
    The Buenos Aires apartments are not that style, but the building is really modern and comfortable.

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