This exciting new book on British country houses offers an unusual and magnificent look at the lifestyle, architecture, and interior design of the country house of the British Isles. From Brideshead to Downton Abbey, the country house is a subject of fantasy and curiosity, as well as a rich resource to explore the history of great architecture and decoration and the lives of landowners and those who made the houses work. With hundreds of photographs from the National Trust, and others from public and private collections, this visually lavish volume draws back the curtain on important historic homes in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. At the same time it reveals the complex stories of these interiors, both grand and hidden, from great halls, libraries and entryways to the kitchens and stables and gardens. Locations featured include Knole, Cragside, Castle Howard, Chatsworth, Polesden Lacey, Petworth, Bodiam Castle, Blenheim, Longleat, and dozens more. An insightful essay by renowned British author and historian David Cannadine explores how the idea of the country house has changed over the past forty years. Additional essays reflect on how changing twentieth century values have impacted the country house, with contributions by writers and scholars such as Sarah Callander-Beckett on the private house, Madge Dresser on slavery and the country house, and Dr Oliver Cox on the ´Downton Abbey ´effect.´ The texts are woven around extensive picture essays, introduced and curated by country house specialist Jeremy Musson, which look at the identity and image of British country houses of all kinds and the stories they contain.