Past Exhibitions

The Regency Country House: Photographs from the Country Life Picture Library

An exhibition in the Soane Gallery from 21 October 2005 to 25 February 2006

Sponsored by Savill's and Sotheby's with additional support from the Englefield Charitable Trust and Historic House Hotels Ltd

Sir John Soane's Museum is pleased to announce a new exhibition looking at some of some of Britain's greatest houses as recorded by the legendary photographers of Country Life magazine. The Regency Country House: from the Archives of Country Life is curated by John Martin Robinson, one of Britain's leading architectural historians, and is the first exhibition to provide a comprehensive survey of the key English country houses of 1800 to 1830. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated book of the same title, written by John Martin Robinson and published by Aurum Press in October 2005.

The Regency Country House is divided into three major sections: it looks at the princely palaces and houses associated with the Prince Regent (later George IV) himself, from Carlton House and Brighton Pavilion to Buckingham Palace, the nobleman's houses such as Tregothnan, and Eastnor Castle and gentleman's houses such as Southill, Bedfordshire and Sheringham, Norfolk and Luscombe in Devon. Drawing on the unparalleled archive of Country Life, the exhibition is richly illustrated with examples of work by leading country houses architects including the Wyatt dynasty, Henry Holland, John Nash, CR Cockerell, Robert Smirke, William Wilkins, Thomas Hopper, Humphry Repton and Sir John Soane, as well as regional designers such as Dobson of Newcastle and Webster of Kendal.

The exhibition identifies and examines the major architectural themes of the Regency, from the emergence of the Graeco-Roman style associated originally with the Wyatts to the development of the Gothic Revival, the Picturesque and 'Cottage Ornee' (rustic buildings of picturesque design) and the influential role of Thomas Hope whose country house and garden at Deepdene influenced the revival of the Italian style of garden design.

In the mid-20th century, after several decades of neglect and the estimated loss of 1,700 English country houses, the surviving houses of the Regency period took on a new lease of life, partly thanks to Country Life authors such as Christopher Hussey and Margaret Jourdain who played a significant role in the rediscovery and popularisation of the Regency period, a time when the English country house took on many of the qualities and attributes that we still take for granted today.

The Regency Country House follows highly successful exhibition England's Lost Houses held at he Soane in 2003. England's Lost Houses, curated by Giles Worsely, also featured photographs from the archive at Country Life.

The accompanying book The Regency Country House: from the Archives of Country Life by John Martin Robinson and published by Aurum Press is available from the Museum shop from priced at £40.

A 12-page full colour exhibition guide, priced at £1, is also available.