In 1974 Roy Strong, John Harris and Marcus Binney drew attention to the plight of the English country house in an exhibition at the V&A. The catalogue, The Destruction of the Country House 1875–1975, is now something of a collector’s item, and deservedly so, as it was the first book to bring to public notice the loss of some of England’s most important buildings. Since then there has been a steady trickle of books on the subject, most recently the late Giles Worsley’s splendid England’s Lost Houses: From the Archives of Country Life (2002).
John Martin Robinson’s passionate new book is on the same theme but takes a refreshingly wider view. Great houses had always been at the centre of great landed estates. The latter both sustained the mansions at their heart and gave them their status. From the early Middle Ages aristocratic estates