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Champagne and Shambles: The Arkwrights and the Downfall of the Landed Aristocracy [Hardcover]

Peter Beale
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 Jun 2006
In January 1870, Johnny Arkwright was the largest landowner in Herefordshire. From the processions and balls which celebrated his coming of age, to facing financial ruin at his own sons birthday and the eventual sale of the estate, this book shows, through the example of a prominent family, the downfall of the landed classes.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (22 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750943920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750943925
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 801,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Catherine Beale has worked as a historian since 1995. She has written articles for Garden History, Country Life, Hortus and the Hereford Times, conducted historical and garden tours, and given talks to various groups.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Champagne and Shambles 26 Oct 2006
Champagne and shambles is the story of the Arkwrights of Hampton Court in Herefordshire. With a fortune made in the cotton industry after the invention of the spinning jenny, the Arkwrights, like so many industrialists, set up as landed gentry. For over a century from 1810, their large estate with its historic mansion became a model of the latest farming methods. As enlightened agriculturalists they adopted every new improvement for their 10,000 acres and they established a prize herd of Hereford cattle.

With the repeal of the Corn Laws and subsequently the introduction of refrigerated transport ships, foreign wheat and meat flooded into Britain and prices for farm produce collapsed. Rents had to be reduced, mortgages were called in and agricultural land found few buyers. Like thousands of the landed gentry, the Arkwrights had to abandon their estates, their privileged life style and their status in their county and country. Catherine Beale's absorbing and meticulously evidenced account records the fall from power of the landowning class in Britain.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reaching for the champagne... 20 Sep 2006
You can sort of see why Johnny Arkwright needed to reach for the champagne to escape the huge stress of maintaining Hampton Court and all its surrounding land: It was no party. It's amazing to think that less than 150 years ago, a quarter of the land in England and Wales was in the hands of just 710 people. No wonder there was what Catherine Beale describes as a "quiet revolution"! It's the sort of figure that sheds a great deal of light of the transformation that the British countryside has undergone since then. Catherine Beale really brings that transformation to light in this meticulously researched history, and even the most fervently anti-landlord reader can't help but be charmed by the colourful characters in the Arkwright family. It's by charting their downfall from the landed aristocracy that Beale brings to life the economics of it all. It's quite astonishing really how the Arkwrights lived quite happily at their ancestral home while accumulating so much debt, without seeming to realise where it was all headed. Beale has a wonderful turn of phrase and you can really feel her sympathy for the family. This is a must-read for anyone with a passing interest in the history of rural England and the landed aristocracy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Book' 24 Jan 2009
I found this account of the ups and downs of Hampton Court very enlightening, As someone who has had close ties with the Hampton Court Estate as Manager in the days of George Hughes,I learnt a lot about the past Owners of Hampton Court that I had no inkling of when I worked there. I thoroughly recommend this book as an insight into the Landed Gentry of Herefordshire'
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