Every region, every terrain, every domain has a character. A character that can be recalled with particular motifs, colours or even scents. How do we describe the character of the English country house?
In one word, we would say "dignity." From the restrained but imposing facade to the grand but contained interiors, the English country house is a statement of inimitable stature. Its essence is rooted in history, continuity and a legacy that is no accident, and cannot be recreated at a whim.
Recently, the lovely Uppark House served as inspiration for a custom commission of a dollhouse. Delightfully, this one was for an adult collector. While some details have been faithfully recreated- for instance, we used actual red brick powder to stain the case, others have been customised to suit this commission. Most significantly, the roof is very different and the scale has not been taken to measure.
Historic homes are rarely representative of any singular style. Rather, living homes are altered and amended over the ages to add a little of the habits of every age and each generation's taste. This gives them that je ne sais quoi that distinguishes them from a pastiche. Furniture of different styles at different stages of wear and tear convey a sense of life and spirit. A shiny new palette revering a particular taste can never achieve that effect. And neither can a new house that has been artificially aged. That is the inimitable ingredient of any significant house- time.
A historic house is always somewhere on a timeline- there is a spell of decay and restoration that gives credibility to its history. You would get a sense of how the families have been using it and adapting its older features for their present use. Though many layers of use and taste have led to its current form, you also get the sense that this is not its final form. Many historic homes are now no longer lived in, and they face the challenge of upkeep. The rare few that continue to be occupied by the original families would make curious case-studies of 21st century sensibilities.
Exploring the ethics of aesthetics is perhaps a blog for another Sunday, so we leave you with this thought about virtue-
"It is a great deal easier for a man to find a pedigree to fit his virtues than
virtues to fit his pedigree."