St. Giles House
The Rebirth of an English Country House
In 2012, Nicholas Edmund Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, and his wife became the first people to live in St Giles House, Dorset, since the death of his great-grandfather in 1961. The Grade I listed building had been the family home since the 1400’s, but like many English country houses, it fell into disrepair following World War II. The family relocated nearby, selling many of the house’s exquisite pieces of furniture and objects. St. Giles House, slowly crumbling, appeared on the English Heritage “Buildings at Risk” register due to its perilous state of near collapse. As the Earl explained, “the world had moved on, leaving the house behind to fall slowly into ruin.” After several family tragedies, Nicholas unexpectedly inherited the title and house at age 26. Rather than shying away from the daunting house project—which in some areas had no electricity or plumbing—the new Earl was determined to make St. Giles inhabitable as his family home. His award-winning restoration first described in the New York Times and in World of Interiors is now illustrated in a new Rizzoli book (September 2018). Lord Shaftesbury’s talk will explain his sudden inheritance, as well as describe his personal trials and tribulations, and eventual successes with the renaissance of St. Giles. He will show dramatic before-and-after photos, from the interiors to the grounds and gardens, which offer a front row seat into the house’s dramatic transformations. The result is a testament to his resilience to honor his family’s past while embracing 21st century living.
Thank you to our co-sponsors: Rizzoli; ESU, New Orleans Branch.