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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 February 2013
It has never been the case that Hudson's has had a comprehensive coverage of all Britain's historic houses and gardens, but in the past there have been so many properties included that it seemed to be comprehensive. Increasingly this is not the case. This is not Hudson's choice: properties pay for their inclusion and in the internet age fewer choose to do so. Hence the latest edition has 480 pages compared to the 560 in the last edition. In that last edition Buckinghamshire, for example, had twenty properties, whereas the current one has only eight - if one excludes churches. In fact there are five churches included with details how to contact the Churches Conservation Trust in order to gain access. There are many such churches listed throughout the book, and this is a welcome new addition.

Hudson's has reacted to the fall in the number of contributors in two ways. Firstly, it has increased the number of articles. In the 2011 edition the first 55 pages were articles. In 2013 the first 117 pages are articles, beginning with "Milton: Paradise Regained" by the delightful Lucy Worsley with lots of photos of her at Milton Manor. Among the twenty articles are Simon Thurley on the history of heritage preservation, the New Wales Coast Path, Loyd Grossman on the Churches Conservation Trust, jousting, the home of Sir Walter Scott, and two articles on life below stairs in country houses. All are relatively brief and aim to be interesting rather than academic, with lots of photos.

Hudson's second method of reacting to the threat of the internet is to embrace it. One of the articles explains the reasons for setting up a website, and every page in the section on properties has the words "Review properties at [...]" at the bottom. The website enables one to quickly find properties that permit dogs, have restaurants and/or tea-rooms, have guided tours, or are open all year. It also has lists of special events in each region. It remains to be seen how useful this will prove to be, but it does at least show that Hudson's is finally reacting to the decline in the number of contributors. Of course, the danger for Hudson's is that people will see the website as an alternative to the book rather than a complement.

Is the book worth buying? Well, nothing will satisfy those who want nothing less than a virtually complete coverage of all properties. On the other hand the book is cheap (on Amazon) and the combination of twenty mostly interesting short articles and sumptuous photos of some of the properties that remain make this a coffee table book rather than a comprehensive guide to be kept in the car. Many people are likely to enjoy the new Hudson's and welcome its attempt to respond to the internet, but should be aware of its shortcomings before buying it. I would advocate one further change by the publisher. The present title is "Hudson's: Historic Houses & Gardens". I suggest that the title be changed to "A Selection of Historic Houses & Gardens" to make it clear that it is very far from being comprehensive.
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on 19 March 2013
Published each year, this used to be the Bible for visiting country houses and gardens in UK. It saved having to carry separate guides around as it listed all properties belonging to National Trust and National Trust for Scotland, English Heritage, Historic Scotland, CADW, Historic Houses Association but a number of privately owned properties which don't belong to any of these as well as a few owned by local authorities. At £15.99 it was excellent value as it gave a description of the properties with contacts and opening times. We used to keep a copy in the house and one in the car.

Some of the major properties were give a full page spread. Others had up to quarter of a page, often with a photograph. Maps at the end showed location of places listed. My last copy was 2007 and I thought it was long past time it was replaced.

The new edition is a major disappointment and I fully agree with the comments made by Derek Jones. There are over a hundred introductory pages. These include Lucy Worsley talking about Milton Manor, an article on Abbotsford, Walks around North Yorkshire (with a map which doesn't mark the route of the walk or even footpaths and the description is useless for route finding). Mrs Hudson's holiday "who likes to find places on the edge of the tourist map..." includes Glamis Castle, St Andrews and Arbroath Abbey. She hasn't really got very far off the standard tourist route.

Descriptions of properties fill 400 pages. Checking back in the 2007 edition, descriptions filled 500 pages....

Redundant churches in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust are now included, and there are a lot of these. However, they are not marked on the maps at the end. There inclusion though useful if you like visiting churches (we do) does mean that somethimg else is omitted.

There are fewer full page descriptions. Many of the properties are relegated to a three line entry after the main entries which gives their name, address, phone and email but no web site. Depending on the area, there can be up to four pages of these brief mentions. This is hardly helpful.

There are also notable omissions. Checking our local area, Belton House (NT) and Agnes Burton Hall (HHA) are ignored. Hardwick Hall (NT) gets a brief mention under Hardwick Estates.

This edition can probably be summed up by those damning words on school reports "Could do better".
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on 23 December 2015
Not as good as it used to be. Slimmed down version now, with information on National Trust proerties especially compromised - i guess that explains why you don't see Hudson's in National Trust gift shops any more. Still useful, but not the essential bible it once was.
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on 20 February 2014
The definitive guide which seems to get better each year.. In addition - a lovely book to browse through; interesting and a quality guide very professionally compiled plus excellent and faithfully printed illustrations. 100% !!
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on 15 April 2014
I am a tour guide, and "Hudson's Historic Houses and Gardens" is simply my Bible, particularly in the summer months. I keep it in the car with me all the time. It is invaluable.

Of course I would recommend it. There is no better publication, for it is beautifully produced, with clear descriptions and splendid photographs.
Gerry Smith
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on 30 June 2013
This book lists out most, if not all, of the houses and gardens one can visit including visiting hours, prices, special conditions etc. If you are travelling around the UK or on holiday somewhere and need to see what there is that you can visit this is the perfect reference. This book combines the lists of the National Trust, English Heritage, Historic Houses and other organizations into one big volume
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on 24 April 2013
This year's Hudson's Historic Houses & Gardens, Castles and Heritage Sites is far more comprehensive than in previous years. It has far more entries than before and now includes, for example, churches. It also includes interesting articles at the beginning, so it is both a useful directory and a good read.
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on 19 February 2013
Used to buy one each year as we are members of the National Trust and were with Historic Houses and English Heritage so planning outings was easier.

The one we had was now 5 years old, so thought a new one would be better (only with NT now).

A must if you enjoy visiting these places.
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on 4 March 2013
No serious visitor to historic Houses and Gardens should be without this guides covers many, many different organisations under it's umbrella well worth the annual investment to keep up to date.
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on 6 March 2013
You are from Germany and you love english houses, castles and homes.... what do you need- just the Hudson's and nothing else (nothing compares to you....) We love it year by year by year.......
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