Love letters from our readers: Famous fans of Country Life

We ask friends of the magazine to tell us what keeps them turning our pages.

Jilly Cooper, novelist

‘I adore it all, but particularly the ravishing photographs of gardens and lovely houses, the Arts coverage and, most of all, its huge affection for dogs and the way you campaign for the survival of animal breeds under threat’

Robin Hanbury-Tenison, explorer and writer

‘Country Life consistently amazes and delights me with colourful insights into our glorious green and pleasant land. Between the always enchanting girl of the week, whose mother—or, more frequently now, grandmother—I often find I knew and a quick Tottering uplift, all that makes life worth living is revealed’

David Messum, gallery owner

‘Although I work in Cork Street, I’m a countryman at heart. Each week, the magazine is delivered to the gallery and, with it, a refreshing reminder of those country pursuits I find most nourishing. There are issues that speak about how grand life really is and how important it is to preserve our countryside and well-being; that, set against the everydayness of having to make a living, gives life a better balance. Long may it prosper’

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Richard Green, gallery owner

‘I enjoy the attention to fine and decorative art, exhibitions, museums and market results. I always turn to My Favourite Painting and Huon Mallalieu’s column’

The Duke of Bedford

‘Country Life means various things to me. Sheer curiosity leads to enjoyment of the property advertisements and I particularly like to see what Country Mouse has been up to. My Favourite Painting can be revealing, surprising and thought-provoking and I enjoy following Huon Mallalieu, as you often pick up on interesting articles from less well-known auction houses. And, naturally, one ends with a smile for Tottering-by-Gently’

Sue Lawley, presenter

‘It’s a magazine of dreams — dreams of the rural idyll to which I still aspire. It will never happen now, of course, but that won’t stop me drifting through the beautiful houses and antiques that decorate your pages. It’s like returning from a happy trip through the English countryside to lounge, glass in hand, in front of an open fire in a gracious room with breathtaking views. That’s got to be worth
a few quid a year’

Ross Murray, CLA President

‘As the midweek post hits the mat with the latest Country Life, it lifts the countryman’s spirit in me like no other tonic. The order of play is Tottering, Agromenes, Leader, Town & Country, Frontispiece, then everything else — hours of pure pleasure. Oh, joy!’

The Duke of Northumberland

‘For those, like me, with a short attention span, but a love of rural things, Country Life is ideal for browsing. There’s something interesting, attractive, amusing or informative on virtually every page and it delivers its goods in a charming and unpretentious way. There are, of course, traps that lure the browser into deeper involvement — before you know it, you’ve read the whole of David Profumo’s fishy ramblings and all the Agony Uncle’s witty advice. Long may it continue!’

Michael Heseltine, former Deputy Prime Minister

‘Gardeners build on yesterday to create tomorrow. We can marvel at the work of our mentors who did so much to create the world we live in. In our turn, we fulfil ourselves by creating so much that only future generations will fully appreciate. Country Life is the link between these two worlds, always reminding us what others did, always encouraging us to plant our own piece of history. Wednesday by Wednesday, it cannot come soon enough’

Jools Holland, musician

‘One of the things I enjoy most is the architectural features — John Goodall is a particularly brilliant writer. His in-depth articles are always illuminating and informative and full of wonderful ideas I can nick. Second, Country Life has a very long shelf life. I’m fortunate enough to have some early bound copies and am always finding something of interest. The other evening, I was browsing through a 1953 edition and noted very good pieces on medieval wall paintings, pargeting and the propensity of herons to sulk. My highlight is My Favourite Painting — it’s like a visual Desert Island Discs and I always learn something new about the painter from John McEwen’s dazzling writing’

Henrietta, Dowager Duchess of Bedford

‘There are few pleasurable “constants” in life, therefore the things that are become important. Country Life, is for me, a constant. It has never let me down and seems to just get better in a world where standards so often seem to drop. I live half the year in New Zealand and would have a serious problem if I could not have my weekly joy of going to the mailbox to retrieve my magazine. I love every page as I have done since I was about 14’

Lucinda Green, champion eventer

‘I love the pictures and the down-to-earth subjects. Country things I have taken for granted all my life are explained in a detail I had not hitherto comprehended — always fascinating’

The Duke of Buccleuch

‘Most of Country Life is timeless, as enjoyable years later as it is hot off the press. What John Cornforth [late architectural editor] wrote over the decades is still full of extraordinary insight, but there are new heroes of these pages, equally engaging and brilliant at unravelling complex family and building stories. I rather long to kidnap them as semi-permanent house guests’

The Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, writer and creator of Downton Abbey

‘Country Life is in the business of fuelling dreams and it has certainly fuelled mine for the past half century. Not only dreams of large houses and rolling acres, but of a whole way of life that has been endorsed, celebrated and, in some cases, rescued through its articles. The day finally dawned when my wife and I bought a place that we had first spotted in the magazine and those long-held dreams came true. Thank you’

Nicholas Coleridge, president of Condé Nast and chairman of the V&A

‘I have missed very few editions in 25 years and, every week, when the new issue arrives, I play the same game. You page through the property advertisements at a regular pace, allowing five seconds for each spread. When you spot the house of your dreams, you shout: “That one!” You only get one shot, one choice and you can’t go backwards. If you choose too early, you might get the pretty Lutyens house in Kent with eight acres when there is an even more fabulous Georgian one with 5,000 acres and a helipad coming later. And there’s a further twist: if you keep your powder too dry and the house advertisements run out, you have to marry the Frontispiece girl. The “Country Life game” has been a Coleridge family favourite for ever’

Dame Fiona Reynolds, Master of Emmanuel College

‘Once a week, Country Life allows me to dream and imagine… beautiful writing, beautiful places, country traditions and contemporary concerns. I love the chance to be guided around glorious houses and gardens, learn about dogs and sheep, trees and clocks, but, oh, what I’d miss is Agromenes’s rants and the practical preoccupations of the Town & Country Mice. There’s never a dull week’

Sir William Worsley, Chairman National Forest Company

‘Country Life gives an interesting, thoughtful, diverse and up-to-date view of the British countryside and rural life, all done in its own unique way. Town & Country and My Favourite Painting are the pages I turn to first’

The Duke of Devonshire

‘I love your magazine and all the expert articles, especially about gardening, and, of course, Tottering’

Simon Jenkins, journalist and author

‘Sir Robert Walpole showed his cool head as Prime Minister by always opening letters from his Norfolk agent before turning to matters of state. I know the feeling. As my hand wanders over the threatening mountain of weekly periodicals, it rests with relief on Country Life and I am lost for a blessed hour. It is custodian of the eternal rather than the transient. Its business is Nature, landscape, beauty in architecture – the Virgilian pleasures of the outdoors. What Country Life champions needs championing. What it saves is worth saving. It is friend to the fragile, be it moth, meadow-grass or mansion. It is never trivial. And I can vanish into all those glorious houses without ever feeling the need to buy one’

Raymond Blanc, owner and chef of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

‘Having lived in Oxfordshire for 46 years, I hope I am entitled to claim to be a country boy, albeit with a mildly funny French accent. My favourite pages are features on the Arts, as well as Town & Country Notebook and the colourful snippets within. I have a huge admiration for this publication, which has become an institution and today, more than ever, is still pertinent, relevant and an important portrayal of the relationship between town and country. Bonne anniversaire!’

David Fursdon, Lord-Lieutenant of Devon

‘I used to read Country Life in the traditional way — front to back — but often didn’t get beyond the property advertisements. Now, I read it backwards, starting with a smile in a Tottering-inspired way. I find the mixture of tidbits of news (Town & Country) and the deeper probes into our wonderful rural life in the features irresistible. Oh yes and I still sometimes read the property ads.’