The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House, 1918-1939
It is said that there is nothing quite as beautiful as an English country house in summer. And there has never been a summer quite like the summers between the two world wars, a period in which the sun set slowly on the British Empire and the shadows lengthened on the lawns of a thousand stately homes.
Life in the English country house during this period was often punctuated by glamorous parties and decadent gatherings, with all of the occupants above and below stairs conspiring to protect the idea and image of the country house.
Join historian and author Adrian Tinniswood as he discusses and illustrates these houses—some designed by the leading architects of the period such as Edwin Lutyens and Philip Tilden while others were bought up by the newly rich and “historicized” with salvaged bits from elsewhere. He will show some of the modernized new Art Deco decoration, such as the onyx-walled bathroom at Middleton Park, as well as the old faded grandeur of the inherited country house.
But above all, he will explore these homes through the lends of the house parties, or Saturday-to-Mondays, full of exhausting dress codes, extravagant parties, a full schedule of activities (including corridor creeping!), and a generation of characters. From society decorator Sibyl Colefax, burning rosemary on saucers so that her Chelsea villa might smell enticing to guests she hoped to bag as clients; to the future Edward VIII doing his needlepoint on a low modern sofa at the newly remodeled Fort Belvedere in Windsor Great Park.
Drawing on hundreds of memoirs and unpublished letters and diaries, on the eye-witness testimonies of belted earls and unhappy heiresses, Tinniswood’s lecture is filled with entertaining stories and gossip more fantastical than Downton Abbey.