In the early years of this century, the image of the English manor house was part of an idealised England. The early-20th-century admiration for ancient, weathered, picturesque manor houses of the medieval, Tudor and Stuart periods – which had often ceased to be gentry residences in the 18th century – was shared by a broad audience from Romantic Tories to Utopian Socialists, including William Morris, who leased Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire as his country retreat.

From 1897, the combination of the new techniques of photography – light-filled, capable of rendering extraordinary detail – with the antiquarian illustrative tradition was powerfully Romantic. Edward Hudson, the founder and proprietor of the magazine, and H. A. Tipping, its principal architectural writer, shared a taste for the past symbolised by the ancient manor house – or its image.

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