John Martin Robinson rss

Ursula, photographed by Cecil Beaton on the eve of the second world war

From Edwardian idyll to meetings with Nehru: the life of Lady Ursula D’Asbo

The Girl with the Widow’s Peak: The Memoirs Lady Ursula d’Abo (with a foreword by John Julius Norwich)

D’Abo Publications (distributed by Loose Chippings), pp.192, £12.50, ISBN: 9781907991097

This is the Real Thing, an evocative account of English upper-class life throughout the 20th century. It begins amidst the Edwardian feudal splendours of Belvoir Castle, where Ursula d’Abo spent… Read more

Bodiam Castle, near Robertsbridge, East Sussex, was restored by Lord Curzon,  
who considered it too ‘rare a treasure to be lost to our country or desecrated by irreverent hands’

An enduring romance

23 February 2013
Twentieth Century Castles in Britain Amicia de Moubray

Frances Lincoln, pp.200, £30, ISBN: 9780711231788

In the Pevsner volume on Sussex, the otherwise sane topographer Ian Nairn, harrumphed of Arundel ‘that anybody, duke or banker, could as late as 1890 have embarked on the pretty… Read more

Portrait of Sarah Losh by T.H. Carrick, 1873

A Charlotte Brontë of wood and stone

8 September 2012

Sarah Losh is not forgotten (as the subtitle of this book suggests) in her own village of Wreay (pronounced ‘Rear’), south east of Carlisle in Cumberland. The locals refer to… Read more

The new arbiters of taste

23 January 2008
Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945 James Stourton

Scala, pp.480, 36

Moving Rooms: The Trade in Architectural Salvage John Harris

Yale University Press, pp.240, 30

Both these books are dominated by the American connection, over half of each being devoted to transatlantic collecting in the 20th century. James Stourton’s theme is post-war art collecting, and… Read more

No provincial laggard

15 March 2007
Inigo Jones and the European Classicist Tradition Giles Worsley

Yale, pp.220, 40

Inigo Jones is well-known as the first true English Classical architect, and his stature has been established by a series of books and exhibitions over the last 40 years. English… Read more

A brace of noble piles

10 December 2005
Round About Chatsworth the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire

Frances Lincoln, pp.176, 12.99

Holkham Leo Schmidt et al.

Prestel, pp.240, 30

The great houses of England have been singularly blessed in their owners (with one or two exceptions) during the latter decades of the 20th century. None more so than Chatsworth… Read more

From Edgar all the way to Elizabeth

29 October 2005
Coronation Roy Strong

HarperCollins, pp.556, 25

Once upon a time, the young Roy Strong spent many hours, with the encouragement of Sir Anthony Wagner, researching the records of the College of Arms in connection with his… Read more

The inside story

2 April 2005
Early Georgian Interiors John Cornforth

Yale, pp.400, 60

This posthumous book is the summation of a lifetime’s research into aspects of the 18th-century interior in the British Isles by the leading historian of the subject. I say British… Read more

Not poor or lowly

8 January 2005
The British Stable Giles Worsley

Yale, pp.320, 45

Which is the finest 18th-century building in England? Not a royal palace, not a library, not a cathedral, but a stable block: that designed by James Paine at Chatsworth. It… Read more

The last of a noble line

Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, Clan Chiefs and Scottish Feudal Barons edited by Charles Mosley

Burke’s Peerage/ Boydell & Brewer, pp.4500, 399

The new, 107th edition of Burke’s Peerage comes in three massive volumes. It is likely to be the last in printed book format. The previous, 106th edition (1999) was in… Read more

The stateliest and the starriest

25 October 2003
England’s Thousand Best Houses Simon Jenkins

Allen Lane, pp.950, 30

This elegant synthesis (you can tell immediately that Simon Jenkins is an Oxford man and not a product of the other place) is intended to complement the author’s successful Thousand… Read more