Noble Ambitions, a lecture about country house culture in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s

22. November 2022 19:00

Adrian Tinniswood

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
Professor Adrian Tinniswood OBE FSA is the author of eighteen books on social and
architectural history, including Behind the Throne: a Domestic History of the Royal Household
and Noble Ambitions: The Fall and Rise of the Post-War Country House. He has worked with
a number of heritage organizations including The National Trust, and is currently Professorial
Research Fellow in History at the University of Buckingham.