The finer details

Each house or garden often introduces me ‘in situ’ to a new aspect of the Country House or Garden Design, or the history of the home & garden.

I’ve started noting some ‘details’ down.

And the details yet to be recorded but duly noted.

  • The history of glasshouses
  • Why the Victorians built glasshouses for camelias
  • Narwhal tusks
  • The arrival of camellias, rhododendrons and pelargoniums
  • The landscape garden – Lancelot “Capability” Brown and Humphrey Repton
  • Parterres and topiary
  • Copper pots, the Georgian kitchen and the Victorian kitchen
  • The arrival of the sofa
  • Furniture on the edge of the room or in the middle?
  • The library
  • Horses & the stable block
  • The Grand Tour
  • The garden folly
  • The picturesque
  • The aviary
  • Entrance through the piano nobile or the ground floor?  Houghton vs Nostell
  • Chippendale
  • The houses of Charles I and the art he filled it with
  • Who was Bess of Hardwicke – they lady who built Derbyshire
  • The country house vs a house in the country – what happened at the end of the 19th century?
  • Garden sculpture – Philip Jackson, Alison Bell et al
  • Mines & mills
  • Elizabeth & Bess: the rivalry; a tale of ambition and intrigue
  • Encasing ‘the earlier manor house’
  • The walled garden – flowers, fruit and vegetables
  • The giant pestle & mortar
  • Kitchens with windows so high no one can see in or out
  • Scagliola
  • Meaning of ‘half-timbered’ and the construction of wattle & daub
  • The peach house
  • The pineapple (and Knebworth house)
  • The many faces of Charles II
  • Tea and its chests
  • Construction of a medieval house: meaning of “half-timbered”
  • Mary of Orange and tea
  • The Etruscan room
  • Spanish gilded leather walls
  • Don’t melt your face
  • Chinoiserie chic
  • The sin of bare pine
  • The back of a Robert Adam door
  • Is your door seamed?
  • Have your floorboards been taken for a ship yet?
  • The window shutter
  • The regency balcony
  • Samuel Scott – the English Canaletto?  Don’t forget Richard Wilson
  • Reynolds vs Gainsborough
  • The “closet” and the role of the bedroom from 1300-1930
  • The first Italianate garden at Ickworth?
  • Jib doors
  • Estate walls
  • Did Shakespeare live at Hedingham Castle?
  • Gothik with a “k”
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Door cases
  • A fernery
  • Sitting up in bed & the history of the bedroom
  • The houses of mistresses (Marble Hill House for example)
  • Chinese looking glasses (go visit the collection at Marble Hill House)
  • “Indian”, the term for all things Asian or Oriental in the 17th & 18th century
  • The Ice House
  • The Twickenham Set
  • The State Bed
  • Kneller and Lely – Court Painters
  • A Gainsborough or a Reynolds (or both)? – the ladies in the same dress
  • The curiosity cabinet
  • The rock garden
  • The conversation piece
  • Tulip staircases (really fleur de lis, as at The Queen’s House)
  • James “Athenian” Stuart
  • The Tudor Kitchen (see Haddon Hall)
  • The Long Gallery
  • Calendar Houses (such as Knole)
  • Meissen, Serve, Wedgewood and all things potty
  • The feet of furniture
  • Your cornice is your capital, not just a juncture between wall and ceiling
  • Charles Andre Boulle
  • Marquetry or inlay
  • The toffee nose & snuff
  • Egyptomania (e.g. Stowe)
  • The arrival of the fork in England
  • Castellation
  • The house of a courtier
  • Inventing afternoon tea at Woburn
  • A visit by Queen Mary
  • Buying a piece of The Great Exhibition
  • The museums of Queen Victoria &Prince Albert
  • The ballustrade in front of the bed of monarchs



  • Palladio
  • Charles Bulfinch
  • A W N Pugin
  • William Kent
  • Vanbrugh
  • Robert Adam
  • Edward Lutyens
  • Colen Campbell
  • John Carr
  • Sir Christopher Wren
  • James Gibbs
  • Nicholas Hawksmoor
  • Lancelot “Capability” Brown (yes, really – see Burghley)
  • Henry Holland
  • James Wyatt
  • John Soane
  • John Nash
  • Charles Barry

Those who made & designed the interiors

  • Thomas Chippendale – 18th C
  • Sheraton & Hepplethwhite (or Wyatt?) – 18th C
  • Grinling Gibbons – 17th C
  • Giuseppe Cortese – 18th C
  • Robert Adam – 18th C
  • William Kent – 18th C
  • William Morris & co – 19th C
  • Charles & Ray Eames – 20th C

Those in charge of the plants

  • Humphrey Repton – 18th/19th C
  • Lancelot “Capability” Brown – 18th C
  • Vita Sackville-West – 19th C
  • Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll
  • Lawrence Johnston – 20th C
  • Harold Peto – 19th/20th C
  • Beth Chatto
  • Christopher Lloyd (20th C) – see Great Dixter
  • Gertrude Jekyll
  • Margery Fish

Garden styles

  • Cottage Gardens
  • Parterres
  • Brick & coal dust
  • Formal Tudor gardens
  • Italianate Garden
  • Landscape Garden
  • Topiary garden
  • Arts & Crafts “Garden of Rooms”
  • White Gardens
  • Courtyard Gardens
  • Walled gardens
  • French gardens
  • Formal planting
  • High rise gardens

Houses through the ages

  • The long house
  • The arrival of the fireplace
  • Half-timbered houses
  • Moated manor houses, e.g. Boughton House
  • Double courtyarded manor house, e.g. Hampton Court
  • The rise & fall of the abbeys: the Reformation of the Church, e.g. Syon Abbey
  • How England missed the renaissance
  • Elizabethan houses & the gothic
  • Elizabethan houses: the rise of the courtier & the State Rooms, e.g. Burghley House
  • Elizabethan prodigy/lantern houses, e.g. Hardwick Hall
  • Calendar houses, e.g. Knowle House
  • The impact of the Commonwealth on the Great English Country House
  • Post-Commonwealth houses
  • Inigo Jones & The Queen’s House
  • Baroque stately home
  • Palladian stately home “imagined by the English”, e.g. Holkham Hall
  • The Georgian Townhouse, e.g. Fairfax House
  • The rebuilding of London post 1666
  • The influence of the Grand Tour – exoticsm:  Egypt, Turkey, the Orient
  • Follies, e.g. Stowe Gardens
  • Pugin
  • An architect who can produce any style you like, e.g. Charles Barry
  • Building railway stations
  • The Victorian Mill Owner’s House, e.g. Cliffe Castle
  • High Gothic revival houses
  • The Victorian millworker’s terrace
  • The Edwardian country home
  • Art Deco & Art Nuevo
  • The 1930s country home, e.g. the Homewood
  • The revival of the classical country house


5 thoughts on “The finer details

  1. Wow!
    I didn’t think that I would find a fellow architectural sponge on quite my scale…soaking up every conceivable aspect of a property to the total incomprehension of friends and even some room stewards.
    This is a “must subscribe” blog
    Am deeply envious at you getting into The Gherkin – was delayed by traffic (more sporting road closures !! ) and when I finally got there, still before it opened, but the queue stretched so far that I drove past and back home to collect o/h for a visit to Theatre Royal Stratford East and The White House, Ealing.
    Saturday had been a bonanza..Bank of England**, 1, Finsbury Circus (exterior only, but loads to see), Carpenter’s Hall, Custom House, Royal Courts of Justice, Royal Society and Plumbs Family Butchers.
    **No photos inside but they do have a Flicker page with some of the best room pics.

    1. Thanks Ian. On more than one occasion I’ve been told “I’ve never met anyone quite like you”. Quirky is the kindest comment I think. It makes me very very happy to soak it all up. Glad to meet a fellow soul.

  2. So love your blog.
    Maybe you can help?
    Back in the 80s when I was a young teenager, one of the Sunday newspapers held a National Trust for England/Wales/N.Ireland competition in one of their colour supplements. Each week you had to try and identify various National Trust properties ‘hidden’ within a colourful artistic illustration. If I remember correctly those who identified all the properties correctly won a Year’s Membership.
    I never did complete the competition and now years later would love to give it another go.
    Unfortunately the National Trust have been unable to identify the competition and I have had no luck searching the internet.
    Does this ring any bells to you? Do you remember this competition and in which newspaper was it?
    Keeping y fingers crossed. Many thanks.

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