Enfilade

New Book | The Country Houses of Shropshire

Posted in books by Editor on November 29, 2021

From Boydell & Brewer (with 50% off most print books until 10 December; use code BB050) . . .

Gareth Williams, The Country Houses of Shropshire (London: Boydell Press, 2021), 760 pages, ISBN: 978-1783275397, £95 / $150.

A gazetteer of the many fine Shropshire country houses, covering the architecture, the owners’ family history, and the social and economic circumstances that affected them.

Shropshire is the largest English inland county and has a wide variety of important landed country houses, with owners from diverse social groups, with links to trade in Liverpool, Manchester, and London as well as the local gentry. This book is not simply about the houses they built, but also about the people who lived in them and the context in which the houses are set. The architecture is, of course, fully covered. What is distinctive about the author’s approach is that he treats the histories of the families, their artistic tastes, and their estates, as an integral part of the character of each house. Country houses can serve as a barometer of national tastes and of the social and economic times in which they were built. The work includes reference to the important sporting associations, fine, and decorative art collections, and to important guests and social networks. Unlike most architectural guides, this aims at a wider readership, and will be an important resource for social historians, genealogists, and local historians. The Country Houses of Shropshire considers the history of 347 identified houses of varying importance; those with a significant or influential history are given a main entry of up to 6000 words whilst lesser houses are treated with an entry of less than 1000 words. All houses have footnoted entries, enabling the reader to refer directly to source and to undertake further research themselves.

Gareth Williams has been a regional director of Sotheby’s and a curator for the National Trust at Nostell Park. He is now Curator & Head of Learning at Weston Park, one of the major British country house collections, and coordinates residential cultural tours based at the historic house.

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