Northamptonshire Country Houses

Neil Lyon

4th May 2019

The Forum, Moat Lane, Towcester

Neil Lyon is Northamptonshire born and bred. After studying History & Politics at the University of Durham he practised for many years as a solicitor in Northampton and Milton Keynes before embarking on a second career in the country house sector. A member of the Council of the Record Society, he has an MA in The Study of the Country House from the University of Leicester, and has been the honorary archivist at Wellingborough School since 1982.

At a Record Society lecture in September 1947, Sir Gyles Isham of Lamport Hall posed the question whether country houses were now ‘useless anachronisms’. Certainly the 20th century was a tumultuous time for the stately piles of England, and it has long been the received wisdom among historians to focus on the decline and fall, and particularly the number of houses lost. The evidence in Neil’s recent book about Northamptonshire’s houses, published last autumn by the Record Society, paints a very different picture: 87 per cent of the county’s houses are still standing, 56 per cent are still single dwellings, and many of the landed estates are still intact. If Northamptonshire’s story is remotely typical of the national picture then perhaps the time has come to focus more on the great survival of the country house - 'an antidote to the pessimism that so often surrounds the subject of country houses in the modern age' (Country Life review, 23.01.19).

This lecture followed the Annual General Meeting of the Society.

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