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A Kind of Private Princedome: The Story of the Country House

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Athenaeum of Philadelphia

219 South 6th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

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The Story of the Country House with Clive Aslet

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Is the country house an Arcadia, created as a refuge from a busy, bruising world? Or a seat of political power, or the centre of an economically productive estate? It is a castle or a caprice? Clive Aslet, whose new book The Story of the Country House, will show that it has been all these things at different times since the Middle Ages. Adorned by great works of art and surrounded by nobly landscaped parks, these great ancestral homes are now being challenged by critics who see them as bastions of privilege, built from the proceeds of evil practices such as slavery. How should we regard these magnificent survivals, and what role does the country house play today?

In 1624, the diplomat and architectural enthusiast Sir Henry Wooton saw Every Man’s proper Mansion House and Home as the ‘Theatre of his Hospitality…a kinde of private Princedome; Nay…an Epitomie of the whole World’. Nearly four centuries later – and despite huge losses in the 20th century – the country house continues to delight.

About Clive Aslet:

Clive Aslet is a writer, commentator, historian and editor. He has written over twenty books on architecture and history and was the editor of Country Life magazine from 1993 to 2006. In 2019, he co-founded the publishing company, Triglyph Books with the celebrated, international photographer Dylan Thomas. Their first title Old Homes, New Life: the resurgence of the British Country House was published in the Summer of 2020 and they are excited to have released their fourth and fifth imprints last month. As of 2021, Aslet is the new Chairman of the Lutyens Trust.

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Athenaeum of Philadelphia

219 South 6th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

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Organizer Athenaeum of Philadelphia

Organizer of A Kind of Private Princedome: The Story of the Country House

The Athenaeum was established in 1814 as a subscription library, at a time when the free public library system did not exist and collections of books, available for reading or research, were still mostly limited to institutions, schools or colleges.

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia nurtures curiosity in members and neighbors, strengthening community through learning and discourse.

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia is one of 16 membership libraries that collaborate through the Membership Libraries Group. Some, like the Charleston (est. 1748), New York Society (est. 1754), and Newport (est. 1741) libraries, date from the 18th Century.

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