The abundance of great houses, both big and small, formal and rustic, untouched or newly restored continues to capture my attention here in England. We make whole day trips to go see a house or a garden, have a picnic, let the kids run around and hope that they absorb at least one thing they learned from the adventure. My 11 year old has just begun to take an interest. When we drive around now, she comments on houses she thinks are special or beautiful or that she thinks I might want to take a photo of. I think it’s important to teach kids about inspiration – the idea that we can be excited by things we don’t have to buy, the idea of developing a visual vocabulary, and the idea of sharing opinions – sometimes agreeing, sometimes not. It’s fun! ..
The other day I was driving back from Bicester Village (I bought a Céline silk blouse and Marni guipure lace top) with my friend Miranda who is a renowned landscape designer. When she saw the sign to Rousham, she insisted we take a detour. Before the house even came into view we had already seen a stone cow shed in the shape of a mini-castle and a charming gate house with three uniquely decorative chimneys. Then we saw the house in the distance. It was first built around 1635 and has stayed in one family the entire time. Even on a gloomy, frigid early spring day, the house was magnificent. ..
Often as I am driving along the country roads in England, I throw on the brakes, screech up onto the curb, and whip out my phone to take a picture of a house that has caught my eye. There are great houses everywhere here! My taste ranges from sheds to thatch huts to stately homes, and I seem to prefer Georgian architecture over gothic or Victorian – not that I would be able to tell you that without my husband’s input. He can look at any house and tell you what century, decade, and style of architecture it belongs to. I envy this knowledge, but I do not possess it. Despite being a History of Art major in college, I focused the bulk of my architectural history classes on the 20th century. It also doesn’t help that I am American, where there isn’t the same exposure to historical architecture that you would have coming from Europe. I hope some of it will rub off on me while I’m here.