This is intended to be as full a list as possible of country houses, castles, palaces, other stately homes, and manor houses in the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands; any architecturally notable building which has served as a residence for a significant family or a notable figure in history. The list includes smaller castles, abbeys and priories that were converted into a private residence, and also buildings now within urban areas which retain some of their original character, whether now with or without extensive gardens.
An English country house is a large house or mansion in the English countryside. Such houses were often owned by individuals who also owned a town house. This allowed them to spend time in the country and in the city—hence, for these people, the term distinguished between town and country. However, the term also encompasses houses that were, and often still are, the full-time residence for the landed gentry that ruled rural Britain until the Reform Act 1832. Frequently, the formal business of the counties was transacted in these country houses.
With large numbers of indoor and outdoor staff, country houses were important as places of employment for many rural communities. In turn, until the agricultural depressions of the 1870s, the estates, of which country houses were the hub, provided their owners with incomes. However, the late 19th and early 20th centuries were the swansong of the traditional English country house lifestyle. Increased taxation and the effects of World War I led to the demolition of hundreds of houses; those that remained had to adapt to survive.
While a château or a Schloss can be a fortified or unfortified building, a country house, similar to an Ansitz, is usually unfortified. If fortified, it is called a castle, but not all buildings with the name "castle" are fortified (for example Highclere Castle).
Estate houses in Scotland or Scottish country houses, are large houses usually on landed estates in Scotland. They were built from the sixteenth century, after defensive castles began to be replaced by more comfortable residences for royalty, nobility and local lairds. The origins of Scottish estate houses are in aristocratic emulation of the extensive building and rebuilding of royal residences, beginning with Linlithgow, under the influence of Renaissance architecture. In the 1560s the unique Scottish style of the Scots baronial emerged, which combined features from medieval castles, tower houses, and peel towers with Renaissance plans, in houses designed primarily for residence rather than defence.
After the Restoration (1660) the work of architect Sir William Bruce introduced to Scotland a new phase of classicising architecture, in the shape of royal palaces and estate houses incorporating elements of the Palladian style. In the eighteenth century Scotland produced some of the most important British architects, including the neo-Palladian William Adam and his innovative son Robert Adam, who rejected the Palladian style and was one of the European initiators of neoclassical architecture, embodied in a series of estate houses in Scotland and England. The incorporation of "Gothick" elements of medieval architecture by William Adam helped launch a revival of the Scots baronial in the nineteenth century, given popularity by its use at Walter Scott's Abbotsford House and Queen Victoria's retreat at Balmoral Castle. In the twentieth century the building of estate houses declined as the influence of the aristocracy waned, and many were taken over by the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland.
After the Reformation, and the departure of the Scottish court in 1603, artists and artisans looked to secular patronage and estate houses became repositories of art and of elaborate furnishings. Estate houses were adorned with paintings, wood carvings and plasterwork. The Grand Tour encouraged the collection of classical art and the adoption of classical styles for new works that were incorporated into the Adam Style. The Baronial revival resulted a synthesised Victorian style that combined elements of the Renaissance, symbols of landed power and national affiliation with modern fittings. From the late sixteenth century, many estate houses were surrounded by gardens influenced by Italian Renaissance gardens. From the late seventeenth century the formal gardens at Versailles and Dutch gardens were important models. In the eighteenth century less formal and symmetrical layouts became common with the development of the jardin anglais. In the nineteenth century there was a return of the formal garden near to the house. The development of the Palladian country house in the seventeenth century separated the family of the householder from the servants. Gentry families spent much of their time visiting family, friends or neighbours and hospitality was an important part of life. Major activities included hunting, cards, chess and music. Large and sumptuous meals were an important part of social life. In the eighteenth century, estate houses were designed as centres of public display, but in the nineteenth century they became increasingly private and developed distinct male areas.
The historic buildings of the United Kingdom date from prehistoric times onwards. The earliest are Neolithic buildings and these are followed by those of ancient, medieval and modern times, all exemplifying the architecture of the United Kingdom. Below is a list of important buildings and structures from the beginning until Georgian times (18th and early 19th centuries).
This is an as yet incomplete list of listed buildings in England, which are the majority of the listed buildings of the United Kingdom.
The organisation of the lists in this series is on the same basis as the statutory register. County names are those used in the register, broadly based on the ceremonial counties and not always matching the current administrative areas.
Squerryes Court is a late 17th-century manor house that stands just outside the town of Westerham in Kent. The house, which has been held by the same family for over 280 years, is surrounded by extensive gardens and parkland and is a grade I listed building.
The Wodehouse (formerly also Woodhouse) is a grade II* listed English country house near Wombourne, Staffordshire, notable as the family seat of the Georgian landscape designer and musicologist Sir Samuel Hellier and, a century later, Colonel Thomas Bradney Shaw-Hellier, director of the Royal Military School of Music. For almost 200 years the family owned the Hellier Stradivarius. It is claimed that the Wodehouse has not been sold for over 900 years, though more than once the family has died out.
This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.