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

24. November 2022 20:00

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 change.

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.