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Showing posts from March, 2017

Commoners or Kings

Stourhead, the mansion and 2,650 acre estate in Wiltshire run by the National Trust, is one of my favourite places for walks, picnics and marvelling at the concentration of wealth in a few hands. It belonged to the Hoare family, who made their money in banking. Henry Hoare bought the manor in 1717 when, we are told, he replaced it with the Palladian house that’s there now. The next Henry Hoare created the landscape gardens, and then there came Richard Colt Hoare, who added the library and picture gallery. It’s a story we hear over and over again. Lord this built such-and-such a house. Bishop that built such-and-such a palace. King so-and-so built a cathedral. And it never fails to irritate me. Did these lords, bishops and kings lay the bricks? Saw the planks? Raise the roof? No, they didn’t. The work was done by hundreds of craftsmen and women who are entirely written out of the picture. According to Richard Holmes in his book Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Hor