Review of ‘The Derbyshire Country House’, by Maxwell Craven and Michael Stanley

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 10th December 2001, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

Landmark Collector's Library
by Maxwell Craven and Michael Stanley
ISBN 1-84306-007-8 & 1-84306-041-8 (2001)

This mammoth two-volume work first appeared in 1982 and has proved to be invaluable for all sorts of research, from the study of architecture to family tree work. I would guess, though, that it has given most pleasure as a record of several hundred country houses and their fascinating stories. This new, complete hard-back edition, again in two volumes, has been done full justice by Landmark Publishing of Ashbourne.

Authors Maxwell Craven and Michael Stanley have both held museum posts in Derbyshire and share many years' interest in historic buildings. Here they give us stately homes with their potted histories; medium-sized country houses which are almost as well known and delightful modest buildings in almost secret locations.

Front Cover

It is very sad and sometimes quite shocking to see how many historic properties have vanished from the local scene. Some simply fell into ruin and their names survive only in old records - Litton Manor, Moat Hall at Hartington, Over Haddon Hall, Little Rowsley Hall and so many more. Their histories are told with entertaining detail; Calton Manor House, which stood in Chatsworth Park, was sold to Bess of Hardwick by the grandson of the 'chief cock matcher and servant of the Hawks to Henry VIII'. Bess is said to have paid him in silver and 'she did a grin to see him limp under the weight'.

Thankfully, the county still has a rich variety of wonderful old properties. It is impossible to read about them and not feel that in a way they belong to us all - we don't even need to live in them to enjoy them. Future generations should not have as much to mourn. As the Duchess of Devonshire comments in her foreword to the new edition: 'The awakening of the interest of public opinion in historic buildings ... is one of the most cheerful and heartening things that has happened in the last few years.'

With a wealth of black & white and colour photographs and full colour dust jackets, the 2 volumes of The Derbyshire Country House are sold separately.

Review by Julie Bunting

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