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76 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2003
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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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2004
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2012
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
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
on 16 March 2014
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2007
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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on 7 January 2015
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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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2004
I think the book is good, but perhaps a little over-ambitious in its scope. Unfortunately, houses do not lend themselves to such a neat compendium in the way that churches did in his previous book. Nonetheless it is a useful reference for knowing more about some of the more hidden gems. Disagree over Oxbridge colleges, insofar as they are essentially secular residences - I think the book would probably be incomplete without them.
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on 10 March 2014
The book was excellent but would have liked to have seen more illustrated pictures of the houses in question.Other than that very good.
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on 28 July 2015
My wife, for whom this was a Christmas gift, tells me that this is a wonderful and authoritative book, beautifully presented.
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