'A Pleasure Not To Be Envied': The Building of the English Country House

Richard Wilson and Alan Mackley examine the practical aspects of constructing a stately pile in the period 1660 to 1880.

Although the English country house is not easy to define precisely, it was chiefly the creation of large landowners. There were, perhaps, around 5,000 true country houses, the centrepieces of big estates, usually defined as being over a thousand acres. During the period 1660-1880, the owners of these estates prospered, dominating local and national government alike. They were the chief beneficiaries of the prolonged expansion of the British economy in these years, a growth based upon both agricultural and industrial progress. As a consequence, their outlook in general was one of unbroken confidence, the  country house, the principal articulation of their status.

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