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No Voice from the Hall: Early Memories of a Country House Snooper [Paperback]

John Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 April 2000
This volume recounts an odyssey through country houses in the years following World War II. Most had been requisitioned by the armed forces and, when de-requisitioned, were left to stand empty awaiting their owners' return. It was then that John Harris first discovered country houses.;Between 1946 and 1961 he visited over 200 houses. Hitch-hiking or travelling on pre-Beeching branch lines, he sometimes stayed in youth hostels, sometimes on straw bales in the houses themselves. No house glimpsed through the trees or up an overgrown drive escaped his attention. From these visits and from country house sales he became aware of the riches that country houses contained - pictures, china, furniture, marble fireplaces - riches that were in danger of being lost for ever. Here we follow an architectural historian in search of his quarry.

Product details

  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New edition edition (13 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719561493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719561498
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 186,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


`The demolition of these houses is a tragic story, but the author's battles with weather and hostile caretakers, and his discovery of unexpected treasures, are entertaining and beautifully written.' Eric Anderson, Sunday Telegraph; `The best non-fiction book that I have read this year.' Ursula Buchan, Spectator; `An intensely romantic, poignant, angry, frequently hilarious and hauntingly illustrated memoir.' Hugh Massingberd, Daily Telegraph

About the Author

John Harris worked at NME during the height of Brit Pop and was Features Editor at Q and Editor of Select. He now writes for Mojo, Rolling Stone, the Independent, the Guardian, The Times and the Observer and has a regular column in Q.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
John Harris describes his ramblings and illicit entries into a succession of dilapidated yet beautiful old country houses during the late 60's and 70's during what must be the most concentrated period of country house destruction of all time. The atmosphere he manages to generate makes it seem as if one is witnessing the scene at first hand, and leave one with a feeling of great sadness and anger. I challenge any lover of our architecural heritage to be unmoved by this book. The odd swipes at Pevsner are a human, and amusing byline.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful evocation of Post War Britain 26 Mar 2010
Not just a joy to read for architecture buffs but evokes a time in British soceity, Post II War when a young man could spend Summer cycling around country lanes, sleeping in hay barns and having breakfast at the farmers table, searching for that elusive glimpse of a Adams country seat at the end of a bramble tangled drive. Extraordinary tales of spending the night in a deserted mansion or finding the Miessen china still stored in a dust covered sideboard or being told to leave the front door key under the bins of a house filled with priceless art works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Chris
Sadly I've only managed to see a library copy of this lovely book - Now out of print of course, and why? ... However, it is a beautifully written personal 'journey of discovery' of the sad decline and post-WWII destruction of so many historic country houses. Written from the perspective of an earlier time when wandering around the countryside in search of British Heritage was more innocent and less fraught with tedious and paranoid security issues - How refreshing it is to remember with nostalgia that better part of post-WWII decades, but also sad to think that not enough was done to save some of these houses when the country was on the verge of bankruptcy ... Not really so very different from now in that respect, but let's not let it happen again to those houses we do have left, eh? The author did his bit to save our History, and this book is written with an infectious passion. My only criticism would be the printed quality of the images which could be better - In the next, overdue edition perhaps?! Some line drawings and woodcuts too would be even better ...
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