The Tudor keep or fortified manor, presiding like a protective hen over the mud cottages clustered around it, gave way to the unprotected mansion, with lawns, orchards and a fishpond; but still the cottages crowded round, not so much for protection as to take their share in the complex workings of the manorial farm. Thus the "big house" often remained in intimate proximity to the church, where the generations of its owners rested under monuments often forming in themselves an epitome of smaller English craftsmanship; to the cottages, where John Stoutlook, Ralph Jolibody and Robert Litany, succeeded in their time by David Noakes, Robert Holdaway and Jeremiah Mundy, kept a cautious weather eye cocked upon the Hall, whose "justice room" dispensed the penalties for village misdemeanours, whose ample kitchens provided the plenty of the boon-feasts at times of harvest and sowing.
Sometimes, as prosperity and ambition came to the owner, he would desert the older house and build himself another, larger and more magnificent, in the centre of its own park tamed out of the shaggy tangle of the waste lands and far from the sights and sounds of village life. The examples of this development about England are numberless, but one of the most charming is at Cothelstone in Somerset, where the Tudor manor-house, little church and great barns and buildings of the adjacent farmyard lie in close and neighbourly proximity within the village, while half a mile away, in dignified seclusion beneath the wooded slopes of the Quantocks, lies the Georgian Cothelstone Park. The Early Renaissance wall panelling oak panelling.
Counry magnates were the first to feel the desire to isolate themselves from the rural world around them; the majority of vast houses of that period, Wollaton (42), Longford (50), Burghley, were set down lonely within immense parks, though Hatfield, as the air photograph (45) shows, was and remains closely identified with the village. Not often did dislike of even the remotest contact with the humble reach such a pitch of phobia as with the sixth Duke of Somerset, however, who insisted that before he set out in his coach the Sussex roads should be cleared by outriders lest he should be subjected to the gaze of the vulgar. It was an ironical coincidence that his house, Petworth (7), begun in 1683, like Cirencester Park which dates from early in the following century, was built either upon or very near the site of the one it replaced, and so close to the little town of which it forms the hub that its entrance is in the main street; while on the garden side its park sweeps into the distance for miles.
An Adam room wall panelling oak panelling with ceiling medallions
The architecturally sterile years of the Civil War and Commonwealth left the country gentry (and there were never more of them than at this time) with a veritable mania for building and planting, the results of which often remain to delight us to this day. Mrs. Celia Fiennes, in the course of her lively and observant tours of the English counties, seldom passed a day without inspecting some "newbuilt" house, or one in course of construction; while those who were not building were at !east enlarging their parks or, like Colonel Hutchinson during the Interregnum, diverting themselves "in the improvement of grounds, in planting groves, and walks and fruit-trees, in opening springs and making fish-ponds." With the eighteenth century came the boom in agriculture due to improved methods of farming, and the movement for the enclosure of common lands-lands which had been at the disposal of the villagers from time immemorial for pasturage, wood-gathering, snaring-to the great profit of landlords and farmers, if not of their dependants. Country-house incomes often swelled to more than substantial proportions at this time, largely, it must be admitted, at the expense of the now landless class of agricultural labourers, whose general plight reached perhaps its lowest depth of misery and degradation at the period of the Napoleonic Wars. But despite the callous attitude of many landowners, there were still some who could combine a solicitude for their tenantry with a practical acceptance of the new theories of farming. Of such, quite early in the century, was Thomas Coke of Holkham, greatuncle of the famous Coke of Norfolk, who enclosed, drained and planted many hundreds of acres of salt marshes on his Norfolk estate with profit not only to himself but to his tenantry.
For the architecturally minded, the eighteenth century was a period of endless activity and stimulation. Many of wall panelling oak panelling designs were favored by the recipients of large incomes now found themselves in occupation of rambling and uncomfortable houses built for their ancestors under the Tudors, without beauty in their eyes or even convenience, and now no doubt largely derelict as a result of the many disturbances of the last century. What could be more natural for a man of quality than to utilise a swelling income in rebuilding the ancestral home, particularly now that his position in the county was apt to be judged by the magnificence of his house and the extent of its park?
Mantlepiece and stove by Robert Adam for use wall panelling oak panelling