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England's Thousand Best Houses Hardcover – 30 Oct 2003


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane : Inprint Of Penquin books; 1st. Edition edition (30 Oct. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713995963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713995961
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 5.1 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 178,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Jenkins is Chairman of the National Trust and one of Britain's most prominent journalists. He writes a column for the Guardian, has edited both the Evening Standard and The Times, and has written many books on politics, history and architecture, including England's Thousand Best Churches and England's Thousand Best Houses, both published by Penguin. His most recent book was Thatcher and Sons. He is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and lives in London and Aberdyfi.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Simon Jenkins's England's Thousand Best Houses is a sumptuous, encyclopaedic treasure trove of a book--an indispensable guide for anyone who has ever enjoyed nosing around any of England's great abbeys, halls, castles and homes. Retaining the winning, easy-to-use, format of the wonderful bestselling England's Thousand Best Churches Jenkins has sought out, county by county, the most beautiful, arresting and historically important "houses" (anywhere that anyone has ever laid their head) that we have to offer. From firm family favourites such as Windsor Castle, founded by William the Conqueror; the stunning grandeur of Elizabethan mansion Speke Hall; the triumphal Baroque of Blenheim Palace through and onto smaller, more intimate discoveries such as West Yorkshire's Red House (built for a Georgian cloth merchant and home of Charlotte Bronte's best pal Mary Taylor); and the fine Restoration plasterwork in Hereford's Holme Lacy House.

Jenkins continues a project that Nicolas Pevsner so successfully initiated in his ranging architectural classics. Each entry has a pithily sketched history and is marked out of five and the book is replete with Quintin Wright's excellent photographs: a copy for the home and another for the car would not be outlandish. Inevitably, lovers of England's architectural heritage will have wished Jenkins had included--or written more fulsomely on--their own particular favourite but disagreeing with Jenkins never takes away from the pleasure of this lovely, informative brick of a book. If you are going to give this as a gift, make sure you ask for a copy in return. --Mark Thwaite

Review

'By our houses we define ourselves and by them we are known. The Englishman's home is more than his castle. It is his face, his refuge and his family hearth.' So says Simon Jenkins, who set out to create a list that is almost impossible to concoct - the thousand best houses in England. but by "best", Jenkin's doesn't mean big or grand - best means ambiance, character, that unique feeling of being lovingly lived in. And so his list includes everything from Buckingham Palace (three stars) to a small Georgian house in Spitalfield 9four stars), and castles, rectories, farm cottages and prefabs... All English human life is here to be enjoyed. 'The houses of England,' says Jenkins, 'are a treasure trove, a glory of humanity, a wonder of the world." Alright, he might be lacing it a bit with land of hope and glory and all that, but Jenkins has travelled throughout England, from Cornwall to Cumbria, to choose its most impressive, interesting and unusual houses. Not only does he include a full, rich selection of its great and famous houses and estates, but also presents an eclectic mix from the many thousands of towers, castles, halls, abbeys, cottages, private homes - even schools and prisons - of the country. From Blenheim Palace to Milton's Cottage, from Chatsworth to John Lennon's childhood home, from Spencer House to a tiny hop-pickers' shack in Kent, every architectural style and period is included, and setting for almost every kind of English life. Jenkins' only criteria are interest, distinction, and that the property should be open to the public. Check it out. You never know, your gaffe might be there!

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By M. Burrows on 24 Nov. 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another wonderful book from Simon Jenkins to follow up the excellent Thousand Best Churches. Sumptuously illustrated with colour photographs, it gives you succinct but informative reviews of each of the properties covered, from the humblest of dwellings to the grandest in the land. Broken down by counties, with a top 100 and a star rating system, this is an indispensable travelling companion. Sensibly he does not include opening times etc - these are easily found from the National Trust, English Heritage etc. You may not agree entirely with his selection - although I could not detect the omission of any personal favourites - but if you want discover and explore our rich heritage this bedside book is for you.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By J. Picalli on 10 Jan. 2004
Format: Hardcover
While Mr. Jenkins taste is impeccable in terms of selection, his latest book dangerously overstates his personal preferences for restoration over conservation. This was an implicit problem with his “Thousand best Churches” where he willy nilly suggested the replacement of statuary to niches and the re-application of missing heads to civil war defaced church ornaments. In “England’s Thousand Best Houses” Mr. Jenkins begins to suggest restoration policies for whole houses (e.g. Sutton Scarsdale, Derbyshire). Whether his view of the way in which our heritage should be preserved is right or wrong, it should not be allowed to bleed into his descriptions, which it does; all too often. His opinions regarding the houses themselves are both trenchant and entertaining in the best tradition of Pevsner and it is this which recommends the book highly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ABC on 8 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
A great and inspirational book to dip into. It has plenty of wonderful and evocative photos and is a fine companion to Simon Jenkins's earlier book 'England's Thousand Best Churches'. It should be a best buy for anyone interested (or not already interested) in seeking out England's finest houses.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dr. P. R. Lewis on 21 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book by Jenkins is quite misleading. The 1000 houses he describes are very grand indeed, and normal houses inhabited by the British just don't make the grade, even if they are very old and unique. As befits the Chairman of the National Trust, his list includes many NT castles, manor house and former grand palaces of the rich and famous, such as Windsor castle and Hampton Court. However, it highlights a huge gap in the market for this kind of guide: a record of the much smaller and humbler abodes of people through the ages. After all, these grand houses are already very well covered by many other books and guides, but there is nothing much on real houses lived in by real common people. His descriptions are rather repetitive, and those who are NT or English Heritage members will already be well aware of most if not all of the buildings he describes. It may be of some use to the average tourist visiting Britain, although its size and weight may prove somewhat of a deterrent for easy carrying (unless the tourist carries it on a Kindle or Kobo). As is common these days, he also includes a list of the top 100 "houses" which may also help the tourist to our shores in whittling the list down to size. If they do use the grand list, then they are in danger of missing the very best treats, such as Stokesay Castle in Shropshire, which is possible the most hauntingly beautiful place of all. And why is Wales missing from the list? It has the best castles (mainly ruined) of the entire country: can we expect another volume in the series?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Sherwood on 16 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is my 'Bible' of English Historic Houses. There is sufficient but not overwhelming details about history, exteriors and interiors of each house. I particularly enjoy reflecting on each property's star rating and considering why they have earned their score. The book has helped me decide which properties to visit and I am now half way through the 4 and 5 star rated houses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Kreator on 13 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Cover - 4/5 Long Gallery a good place to start

Contents - Pity wales not in the book as well. It could be nice to have a little picture of each with the description. Picture worth a 1000 words etc ..

Will dip into when visiting area

Alexander of the Allrighters' and Ywnwab!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Greshon on 12 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a beatifully illustrated and brilliantly-written guide to England's best houses. Navigation is made easy through the useful organisation of the entries by county, and the excellent index and contents pages. Another nice feature is the ratings, where houses are given stars out of five, as if they were films, albums or books. These critical reviews are unfailingly objective and reliable, too.

The book doesn't just cover houses open to the general public (for example, Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire) and also covers such things as the occasional ruined castle (for example, Brougham Castle in Cumbria). In fact, what it does and doesn't cover is probably the only weakness of the book, becasue it seems a little random at times.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I tend to with Dr. P. R. Lewis "truth hound". For me the book deserves a similar review to his 'Thousand Best Churches'. This book is a travelogue coffee table guide rather than being useful to the serious student or researcher. It is incredibly heavy, so a comfortable bedtime read it isn't - and it's probably too hefty to refer to in the car - you wouldn't want to carry it around during a visit. To be useful this book could be half the length, and weight, or should have been split into a series, or be more portable/manageable as a Kindle
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