Sunday 15 April 2012


In the poem The Planter’s Daughter” by Austin Clarke he descibes the house of the planter being “known by the tress”. I thought this was an apt desciption of the “Big House”’s relationship with the landscape and the surrounding community. The trees that protected the privacy of the occupants of the “ Big House” lent them an air of mystery but this detachment also created suspicion and resentment. These same trees today have become the guardians of these houses, now that their original owners have long since departed.

Whenever I see the ruin of a once great house I am always filled with a natural curiosity to see what it would have looked like in its prime. Over the years I have often cross-referenced the black and white images from when these houses were at the height of their powers with the down at heal realities that remain today. One cannot comprehend what has been lost in terms of our heritage until you compare and contrast the period and contemporary photographs which will be contained in my book.

The history of all these houses share common threads, the social, political and economic forces of the time sealed their fate. The stories of the people that built, inhabited and loved these houses are often highly entertaining, their exploits would often test believability if included in a Hollywood script.

Family feuds, bad business decisions, careless heirs, World Wars, inheritance tax, stock market crashes, land wars, political unrest, recession and depression ensured that only the most resourceful or lucky houses survived. Stories of the implosion of many family’s and their fortunes were played out in the rooms of these mansions that now only echo with the sound of birdsong

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