The Timeline: Stately homes
Wednesday 14 September 2011
1500s: Goodbye to the castle
The feudal castle was old hat by the time the Tudor dynasty hove into view. Comfort, rather than defence, became the fulcrum of country house design. The stately home as we know it was born. The new style of prestige house found a firm footing in Elizabeth I's reign, with magnificent 100-or-more room houses such as Burghley, Haddon and Longleat popping up.
1700s: The country pile peak
Stately home building reached its zenith in the 18th century. In 1725, the footings of England's biggest country house, Wentworth Woodhouse, were laid by the Marquess of Rockingham. By the end of the century, it was twice the width of Buckingham Palace, boastws 1,000 windows, 365 rooms and five miles of underground passages.
1857: The biggest council house
Private houses went public in the mid-18th century. The first was Aston Hall, which was saved from demolition by an unlikely coalition of a working men's committee and local business magnates. It was converted to a "people's park" and was later taken over by the corporation of Birmingham – making it the world's largest council house.
1930s: Taken on Trust
The stately home was on its uppers after the First World War. Scores of great houses were pulled down. Their saviour came in the form of old-Etonian aesthete James Lees-Milne who, as secretary of the National Trust, persuaded owners to hand them to the Trust in exchange for tenancy rights – in five years he increased the number of homes owned by the trust six-fold. Today the Trust looks after around 300 historic homes.
1960s: The rock'n'roll years
The old aristocracy may have been fleeing their ancestral homes, but there was a new type of owner on the scene: the rock star. Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton led the charge in 1969 – Jagger bought the 400-year-old Stargroves in Hampshire.
2011: Downton and out
Our obsession with the country house at its magnificent peak shows no sign of abating. After the success of Gosford Park, ITV created its own big-budget country house drama in the form of Downton Abbey. The series drew 11.6 million viewers at its peak and returns to screens on Sunday at 9pm.
Life & Style blogs
How Old Do I Look: Microsoft’s super advanced age-guessing app is terrible at guessing how old celebrities are, too
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
The 12 most sexually satisfied countries in the world revealed
Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Amazon’s minimum spend doubled: customers must now spend £20 to get free delivery
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...