Historian Dan Cruickshank is invited through the closed doors of six of Britain’s greatest private houses in an illuminating and surprising journey through our architectural history. These fascinating buildings remain ...展开private homes and closed to the public, but their owners have allowed Dan Cruickshank to roam the corridors, tease out each home’s story – who built them, lived in them and lost them – and uncover tales of excess and profligacy, power and ambition. From the disarming Elizabethan charm of South Wraxall Manor, the classical rigour of Kinross House in Scotland and the majesty and ingenuity of Hawksmoor’s Easton Neston, to the Palladian sweep of Wentworth Woodhouse with its 600-foot frontage, the Victorian exuberance of Clandeboye and the Edwardian ingenuity of Lutyens’
Marshcourt, the secrets of these houses reveal not only the story of our architecture, but also reflect the fortunes of the nation itself. Dan shows how the story of each house tells the social and economic history of Britain, each built on an economic crest or crash and uniquely expressive of its creator’s aims, strengths and frailties; the crystallisation of a ruling class at a moment in time.
Part 1: South Wraxall
Dan Cruickshank takes an exclusive tour around one of Britain's oldest country homes - an immaculately preserved relic of the Mediaeval and Tudor ages. Hidden in the depths of the Wiltshire countryside, South Wraxall Manor was built by a family with a fascinating but dramatic and chequered history - the Longs. From lowly origins as descendants of a livestock rustler they rose through the Tudor period to become knights of the realm, friends of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and one of the most powerful dynasties in England. Along the way Cruickshank discovers how a brutal family murder inspired one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, examines how the Longs' skulduggery and connivance brought them unprecedented wealth, and meets both the last member of the Long family to live there and the house's current owner - Gela Nash-Taylor, founder of the American fashion house Juicy Couture.
Part 2: Kinross
Dan Cruickshank explores the stunning late 17th century property, Kinross House. Dan is granted privileged access into the world of architect Sir William Bruce, who changed the Scottish landscape by building the first fully classical house in the country. Kinross House tells a unique story about a man imperative to the restoration of King Charles II - Sir William Bruce. A one time merchant who became one of the richest men in Scotland. With insight from Sir William's descendants, journalists and Scottish aristocracy, secrets long since forgotten are revealed, and offer an explanation into his ultimate downfall. The programme follows the story of Kinross house from its early beginnings through to its current owners and poignant sale in 2010.
Part 3: Easton Neston
Easton Neston, Northamptonshire, was completed in 1702 and is an architectural gem, one of the most beautiful examples of a short-lived but glorious style known as the English Baroque. Work on the house was begun by Sir Christopher Wren and finished by his mysterious protege, Nicholas Hawksmoor. Who designed what, and precisely when, has become a long-running debate. But it's one that, in this programme, is finally put to bed. Easton Neston's ingenious construction is just one of the secrets hidden behind its elegant facade - the building has had a colourful history. In modern times, it has hosted a Formula One racing team and it is now the headquarters of a global fashion brand.
Part 4: Wentworth Woodhouse
Wentworth Woodhouse was once one of the most powerful places on earth. Built in the 18th century, it is still one of the largest privately owned homes in Europe. It was commissioned by one of the wealthiest families in the country whose power and riches put them on a par with royalty. And much of the family's vast fortune was spent on this impressive building and its surrounding estate. But today Wentworth Woodhouse is something of a mystery. Few people know the house, and fewer still have witnessed its palatial grandeur at first hand. By unravelling its hidden history, this film reveals a story of intrigue, family feuding and political wrangling dating back over two hundred years.
Part 5: Clandeboye
There are few other houses in Britain like Clandeboye - a monument to a man whose life was like a Victorian fairy tale of adventure, and a monument to the golden age of the largest and most far flung empire the world has ever seen. Clandeboye House and estate was, like the empire itself, an epic creation - but unlike the empire, it still endures, a vignette of a now almost forgotten age and surprisingly little altered since Lord Dufferin died in 1902. The house is overflowing with relics from the empire and Dufferin's aristocratic adventures - stuffed baby bears, Egyptian monuments, tiger skins and weaponry from India, Canada and Burma to mention just a few, with extraordinary photographic albums that document the collecting of these unique 'souvenirs'. Clandeboye is a genuine treasure trove.
Part 6: Marshcourt
Marshcourt is one of the most extraordinary buildings in Britain - a white chalk Lutyens masterpiece, possibly his greatest, perched above the flowing waters of Britain's best and most exclusive fishing river - the Test. Built as an Edwardian pleasure palace, with its interior still miraculously intact, it evokes the decadence and frivolity of that vanished age, as no other. However, Marshcourt stands for something more: a Britain dominated by finance. It was Herbert Johnson, a broker, that paid for this opulence. The first great houses were built by robber barons, and 500 years later it was the bankers' turn. Marshcourt's narrow escape from the wrecking ball, as Johnson repeatedly teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, is testament to what that transformation has meant for this country.