The value of great country houses

The proposed demolition by dynamite of The Grange, a celebrated neo- Classical country house in Hampshire’s Andover valley, was the catalyst, 40 years ago, for the V&A’s new director, Roy Strong, to commission a landmark exhibition, ‘The Destruction of the Country House’.

Forty years later, we were enjoying the opening performance of Peter Grimes at The Grange as May tumbled into June. The saving of this great house is a triumph that has been matched Wasfi Kani and Michael Moody.

Somehow, I hadn’t been to The Grange before, but on a magical summer’s evening, we were serenaded by the blackbirds as our party gathered under the Doric columns before being challenged by the power, beauty and tragedy of Benjamin Britten’s great work. It was a glorious performance and it was hard to imagine a better place to be in.

So much good has been saved from the near ruin of a politician’s whim. The proud, great, shabby house now has a noble future and for that-and the other houses that have been saved-we should all be grateful. 

* Follow Country Life magazine on Twitter

Recommended videos for you

* Subscribe to Country Life magazine and save