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  • Published: 27 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529111439
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $37.00

Noble Ambitions

The Fall and Rise of the Post-War Country House




From the bestselling author of The Long Weekend: a wild, sad and sometimes hilarious tour of the English country house after the Second World War, when Swinging London collided with aristocratic values.

From the bestselling author of The Long Weekend: a wild, sad and sometimes hilarious tour of the English country house after the Second World War, when Swinging London collided with aristocratic values.

'Preposterously entertaining' Observer
'Brilliant' Daily Telegraph
'Rollicking' Sunday Times

As the sun set slowly on the British Empire in the years after the Second World War, the nation's stately homes were in crisis. Tottering under the weight of rising taxes and a growing sense that they had no place in twentieth-century Britain, hundreds of ancestral piles were dismantled and demolished.

Yet - perhaps surprisingly - many of these great houses survived, as dukes and duchesses clung desperately to their ancestral seats and tenants' balls gave way to rock concerts, safari parks and day trippers. From the Rolling Stones rocking Longleat to Christine Keeler rocking Cliveden, Noble Ambitions takes us on a lively tour of these crumbling halls of power.

* A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year *
* Longlisted for the William MB Berger Prize for British Art History *

  • Published: 27 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529111439
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $37.00

About the author

Adrian Tinniswood

Adrian Tinniswood OBE FSA is the author of fifteen books on social and architectural history, including Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal Household; The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House Between the Wars, a New York Timesand Sunday Times bestseller; His Invention So Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren and The Verneys: a True Story of Love, War and Madness in Seventeenth-Century England, which was shortlisted for the BBC/Samuel Johnson Prize. He has worked with a number of heritage organisations including the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Trust, and is currently Senior Research Fellow in History at the University of Buckingham and Visiting Fellow in Heritage and History at Bath Spa University.

Also by Adrian Tinniswood

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Praise for Noble Ambitions

By turns warm, sympathetic, sly and analytical, Tinniswood examines the complex history of the post-war country house with skill, grace, clarity - and charity. A triumph.

Judith Flanders

Tinniswood's meticulously researched and entertaining study...provides a brilliant insight into a much overlooked period. Few authors can combine serious social history with the sometimes sad and often hilarious narratives of country-house life in the way that Tinniswood can.

Jeremy Musson

[A] highly enjoyable, gossipy read with a gasp on every page; a must for the bedside tables of every guest bedroom, and every stately home gift shop.

Mary S. Lovell

Nobody is better qualified to tell this tale of loss and transformation, in all its human complexity, than Adrian Tinniswood. A master of the sources, he brings the past to life through his vivid writing and seemingly bottomless fund of stories.

Clive Aslet

Adrian Tinniswood's rollicking study perfectly captures the combination of decadence, pathos and brazen cheek that kept the English country house alive when it faced disaster.

John Walsh, Sunday Times

This is a rollicking book.

James Stourton, Literary Review

Tinniswood's springy prose is clear-eyed when it comes to analysing the self-interest that lies at the heart of the country house life... [and his] eye for a juicy anecdote provides the raw material for the book's 20 chapters.

Oliver Cox, Apollo

[A] brilliant new history of the country house since 1945... Tinniswood tells...[the] story superbly, his racy anecdotes mined not just from the usual memoirs, but from a studious trawl of endless local papers.

Marcus Binney, Daily Telegraph

Tinniswood...[is] an erudite historian of country-house life in all its anecdote-worthy vagaries.

Miranda Seymour, Financial Times

[A] preposterously entertaining history of the postwar country house... reading it is rather like leafing through an old leather-bound Smythson address book whose well-connected owner has helpfully added waspish notes, gossip and the odd family tree. In other words, it's heaven.

Rachel Cooke, Observer

Beautifully orchestrated... a compulsive read, deliciously voyeuristic and yet a triumph of meticulous social and cultural scholarship.

Country Life

It is a joy to know that so many of these wonderful buildings have been saved, and to learn about them through this book.

Anne de Courcy, Spectator

A vastly entertaining account of the crisis that befell England's stately homes in the decades immediately after the war.

Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph, *Books of the Year*

As this beautifully illustrated volume shows, the 1950s and the 1960s saw a renaissance as rock concerts replaced hunt balls and the doors of ancient family seats were thrown open to paying customers. Tinniswood chronicles it all in lively detail.

Nick Rennison, Daily Mail

As this beautifully illustrated volume shows, the 1950s and the 1960s saw a renaissance as rock concerts replaced hunt balls and the doors of ancient family seats were thrown open to paying customers. Tinniswood chronicles it all in lively detail.

Nick Rennison, Daily Mail, *Books of the Year*

From the Beatles to lions in safari parks, stately homes were saved by some unlikely samaritans, as Tinniswood charts in this brilliant social history of great houses after the Second World War

Daily Telegraph