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In Search of the Perfect House - 500 of the Best Buildings in Britain & Ireland by Marcus Binney Books in Review
by Adrienne Petterson © 2008      About Me

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In Search of the Perfect House - 500 of the Best Buildings in Britain & Ireland
by Marcus Binney
ISBN 978-0-297-84455-6
Published March 2008 - Hardcover - 880 pages - $45.00

His exhibition of "The Destruction of the Country House" at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London promoted the foundation of SAVE Britain's Heritage.  Marcus Binney's fascination with old and beautiful (often neglected and delapidated) houses and homes in Britain and Ireland has culminated in a vast collection of places brought to the public in his latest book.  Often when one travels, the sight of beautful homes brings gasps of oohs and aahs and pangs of envy as you drive or walk past.  One fleetingly imagines oneself living in such homes.  But, in many cases, all is not as it seems.  Binney has been writing about homes for some forty years, and shares many of his discoveries with us in this beautiful book.  There is a variety of styles of houses and from many eras, too.  As he says,"Timber framed clothier's houses, grand mansions for Elizabethan courtiers, Jacobean halls built for newly rich lawyers, Charles II and William and Mary houses for city financiers, Queen Anne rectories, early Georgean form houses with a certain old-fashioned baroque swagger, Palladian mansions built on the profits of sugar plantations or East India trade, Regency castles for newly created peers, Victorian piles for Manchester cottentots, Edwardian summer retreats..." and so on.  And these structures are found all over the country, not just in certain spots.  Personally, I prefer homes with charm and character (see pages 15, 60, 109, 191, 443, 713, and 793) to characterless (in my opinion) ones on pages 10/11, 23, 160, 403 and 669 - all rather blockish to me.  Gardens and the surrounds are equally important and can make or break the appeal of the homes - see pages 124/125, 336, and 787.  Binney also offers an interesting history behind the houses and homes.
Conclusion - Big, small, imposing, grand, and just gorgeous is how I would describe some of these homes.  There's something for everyone in this visually appealing book.

book cover

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