Leisure, Pleasure and the Country House Weekend
Croquet, parlour games, cocktails followed by dinner—and perhaps “bed-hopping” at midnight. You are invited to journey through the glorious golden age of the country house party!
Historian Adrian Tinniswood will trace the evolution of this quintessentially British pastime and describe both debauched royal tours and the flamboyant excess of the Bright Young Things. He will explain how the Saturday-to-Monday, or Friday-to-Sunday country party (never called ‘weekends’), occupies a special place in British history that is reflected in fiction and film, such as Brideshead Revisited and Downton Abbey. His lecture will feature cameos by a Jazz Age industrialist, a bibulous earl, as well as an off-duty politician—guests who reflected the changes in social conventions which mixed classes in an atmosphere of contrived informality.
Whether in moated medieval manor houses or ornate Palladian villas, Tinniswood will give vivid insight and gossip into weekending etiquette, while revealing the hidden lives of celebrity guests—including Nancy Astor and Winston Churchill—who stayed in some of the National Trust’s most exciting country houses. The result is a deliciously entertaining, star-studded, yet surprisingly moving portrait of a time of escapism by a generation haunted by World War I, and a uniquely fast-living period of British history.
Thank you to our co-sponsors: The Union League Legacy Foundation; Oxford & Cambridge Society of Philadelphia; The English-Speaking Union, Philadelphia Branch