*A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year 2021*
*Longlisted for the William MB Berger Prize for British Art History*
‘Preposterously entertaining’ Observer
‘Brilliant’ Daily Telegraph
‘Rollicking’ Sunday Times
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.
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. Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that so 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, as a rakish, raffish, aristocratic Swinging London collided with traditional rural values. Capturing the spirit of the age, Adrian Tinniswood proves that the country house is not only an iconic symbol, but a lens through which to understand the shifting fortunes of Britain in an era of monumental social change.
Lavishly illustrated in full colour, with over 50 photographs.
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
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