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
Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
Professional wine tasters putting teeth at risk, study finds
Clocks change: how to make sure iPhone and smartphones automatically ‘spring forward’
NHS property sale could raise £7.5bn to help pay off its growing deficit and free up space for housing
Gay marriage, one year on: Couples mark first anniversary of same-sex marriages
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
- 3 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...