I recently stumbled upon a 1969 copy of The Great Houses and Finest Rooms of England. Written by the late British House & Garden editor Robert Harling, the book profiles some of England's most beautiful stately homes including Hatfield House, Charlecote Park, Blenheim Palace, Leixlip Castle, and Sezincote. The book (which is now on my top twenty list of favorite books- it's that good) is an interesting mix of interior and exterior photos plus text that includes interviews conducted with each of the estate's owners. Downton Abbey fans take note: as these interviews took place during the late 1960s, the then-owners (including the Duke of Marlborough, The Marquess of Salisbury, and the Duke of Argyll) recall what life was like at their respective homes during the early part of the 20th century, a time when houses were tended to by large staffs like those at the fictional Downton Abbey.
If you're also a fan of John Fowler and David Mlinaric, then you're really in luck. The work of both designers appears in this book, including the Mlinaric designed private quarters of Shugborough, a Staffordshire estate once owned by the Earl of Lichfield. That's him, below, with his Swinging Sixties hair and attire. (Lord Lichfield was a prominent celebrity photographer whose professional name was Patrick Lichfield.) I'm showing a few photographs of Shugborough here so that you can get a taste of this book. If you're as enchanted by these country estates as I, then you should try to get your hands on a copy so that you can see it for yourself.
The Bird Room
Lord Lichfield's bedroom
The private study.
The circular breakfast room.
A guest bedroom.
Two of the estate's follies, the Temple of the Winds and the Doric Temple, were built by James "Athenian" Stuart. The Chinese House was transported from the Far East by one of Lord Lichfield's ancestors.
The engraving at top depicts Shugborough.