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1000 very grand houses
on 21 May 2012
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?