Country Life’s best architecture stories of 2018: Destruction, salvation and the Gunpowder Plot

Our roster of architecture writers have told some astonishing stories of country houses which have survived and now thrive despite everything history has thrown at them – and in one case from the selection below, a house which didn't quite make it. Here are the ten most popular of those articles from 2018.

Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire: An American evolution


A landmark of Victorian England that was restored to splendour thanks to an American university.

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Marston House, Somerset: A magnificent example of Victorian enrichment of a great Georgian country house


John Robinson on the remarkable history of this building and its return to private occupation after being saved from the wrecking ball.

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Ockwells Manor, Berkshire: An insight into the splendours of grand living in 15th-century England


John Goodall on how a delightful timber-frame house offers insights into the realities of luxurious 15th-century living and the brutal complexities of Lancastrian politics.

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Ince Castle, Cornwall: A country house risen from the flames


A serious fire can be the end of a country house, but, on occasion, it can also offer the opportunity for a sensitive and thoughtful reworking of a building. Ince Castle demonstrates this to perfection.

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The demolition of Halnaby Hall is a warning from history, but destruction needn’t always be a disaster


The loss of our great country houses is lamentable, but need not always spell doom. Lucy Denton of Bidwells – who has family connections to the infamously-demolished Halnaby Hall – explains.

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Stockton House, Wiltshire: An Elizabethan house packed with 21st century surprises


It takes a practised eye to spot what has happened to Stockton House over the past four years. At first sight, the house, set in Wiltshire’s lovely Wylye Valley, looks much as it did when Country Life last visited in 1984 or even when we first wrote about it in 1905.

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Woodhall Park, Hertfordshire: An exemplary example of restoration that highlights the importance of colour in Georgian interiors


Woodhall Park was the creation of two notorious Indian nabobs, Sir Thomas Rumbold and Paul Benfield. Both men grew exceedingly and rapidly rich in the 1760s. Both returned to England to invest their new fortunes in a country estate.

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Capheaton Hall, Northumberland: The revival of a country house that narrowly avoided demolition


The Swinburnes, to whose descendants this house still belongs, came into possession of Capheaton in 1270. Against all the odds they’re still there and going strong.

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Ashby St Legers: A spectacular house where the Gunpowder Plot was hatched


This house associated with the Gunpowder Plot was splendidly enlarged by Lutyens and is now enjoying a new lease of life as a modern family home.

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Chenies Manor: The Tudor estate that encompasses an ancient oak tree beneath which Elizabeth I lost a piece of jewellery


This Tudor house was the unlikely venue for the first meeting of the founding group of The Arts Society. John Goodall tells its remarkable story.

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