Monday, December 10, 2012

Life in England: My favorite houses

Often as I am driving along the country roads in England, I throw on the brakes, screech up onto the curb, and whip out my phone to take a picture of a house that has caught my eye. There are great houses everywhere here! My taste ranges from sheds to thatch huts to stately homes, and I seem to prefer Georgian architecture over gothic or Victorian - not that I would be able to tell you that without my husband's input. He can look at any house and tell you what century, decade, and style of architecture it belongs to. I envy this knowledge, but I do not possess it. Despite being a History of Art major in college, I focused the bulk of my architectural history classes on the 20th century. It also doesn't help that I am American, where there isn't the same exposure to historical architecture that you would have coming from Europe. I hope some of it will rub off on me while I'm here.

This is a private family home that allows public access to its surrounding zoo. Many of the zoos in England are on the estates of grand houses - usually implying that the family who owns the house needs the income from the zoo visitors. What's great is that the parents get to enjoy seeing the lovely house and its gardens while the kids are happy looking at the animals. Also, they have these clever things called ha-has, which are especially dug trenches to keep the animals contained, so there is no necessity for fencing. My kids happen to love this house too, because it looks like a castle.

Sudeley Castle belongs to my friend Molly Brocklehurst, who worked with me at Gagosian Gallery in the 90's. The house itself is stunning, but the most jawdropping part for me are the ruins and the chapel, dating back to the 15th century.

This is my kids' school. I feel happy every day when we drive up to be greeted by such a beautiful building surrounded by cows and sheep. 

This is my friend Adam Fuss' house in Dorset. It is from the 1500's and has very few modern conveniences. Sleeping there is like going back in time.

My daughter Coco and I were headed to a car boot sale, and we arrived at this incredible thing. It was originally a house, but now functions as a shooting lodge, and also as a venue for public events. 

This is a village house in a nearby town. I love the windows.

A local friend of ours is about to move into his parents massive house. In the meantime he's been slumming it in this cottage. Poor guy.

I drive by this thatch cottage everyday on my way to the kids' school. Thatching is a work of art - I wish you could see up close the structure of intricate and beautifully laid wires holding it all together.

 This house in Somerset belongs to our very close friends Lulu and Cosmo. I love the irony - on the outside it is a perfect example of classic Georgian architecture, while on the inside it is filled with eccentric and unconventional belongings.

I don't remember where this house was, just that I saw it on the way to my son's soccer match. The entrance took my breath away. 

This is our garden shed. I photograph it nearly every day. Its a great subject for recording beautiful light, seasonal changes, and the evolution of the garden.

Chastleton is now owned by the National Trust, a government-funded collection of beautiful houses and gardens around England. It's slightly out of my way on the school run, but every so often I drive that way to have the pleasure of seeing it. 

This is my friend Laura's house, right outside of Oxford. I love the symmetry and formality of the design, combined with the warmth of the red brick. It's one of my all-time faves.


  1. I love this post. These houses are gorgeous, hard to pick which I like best!

  2. Your beautiful photos are making me so nostalgic for England!

  3. beautiful photos, as usual. thank you so much for sharing!! i would love to be able to see just one of these houses some time.

  4. Merci pour vos photos. Elles font rêver.

  5. What a delight for the eyes these homes! THANK YOU for sharing...

    I'm going back to look at them again so I can dream about what my life would be like to live in one of them...O-O.

  6. These homes are utterly inspiring! Thanks for sharing.....Thatched roofs are an all time fave of mine....

  7. The eleventh photo reminds me the cottage of the movie the holiday! Very beautiful selection!

  8. So so beautiful. Ah, I wanna escape to the English countryside

  9. Even though all of these estates are beyond gorgeous, i must say that i love your garden shed the most!!

  10. Dreamy dreamy dreamy. Thanks for sharing.