New country houses

I have in the past week spent two days looking at new country houses with the architects who have designed them (which was worth all the increasingly grim train travel). They are all in the Classical tradition; those I saw near Wadhurst (East Sussex) are in the early to mid Georgian style, while the one on the Welsh borders was inspired by Nash. It is extraordinary how persistent the Classical style is for smaller country houses, I think largely because they are restful; this is the effect of order and symmetry in the chaos of the modern world. But it should always be remembered how they depend on the gentleness of the British landscape, the woodedness, and small field pattern of an ancient nation to achieve their full effect.

I had lunch with a friend in Brooks’s, that most charming of St James’s clubs, and recalled that the first time I met him was after lunching with another friend at Boodles. This friend said I promised to take you to have coffee at Brooks’s to meet so and so. As we crossed St James’s I was very nearly knocked down by a fast moving taxi. After stumbling shocked on to the pavement we decided in that daft moment, it would have looked good on the obituary of an Architectural Editor of Country life to have been knocked down between courses in different clubs.

Thankfully, I survived this lunch to make a viewing after work to watch a viewing of John Betjeman’s Passion for Churches, with a very amusing introduction by the director who worked on it, Eddie Mirzoeff, who I had first met in 1995 filming on Orford Ness. The film is a masterpiece, but would the BBC have made it today? I wonder.