The Book Thing is such a lottery. This week, there was certainly quantity, but neither Kitchenography or I thought there was much of quality there. However, I did manage to find a book, sans dustjacket, called The Englishwoman's House (1984).
The book is a collection of essays from prominent Englishwomen who write about their houses. It was edited by the very interesting Alvilde Lees-Milne and photographed by Derry Moore, also known as the 12th Earl of Drogheda. The foreword has been written by HRH Princess Michael of Kent.
Amongst the houses and essays featured are Mrs. Laura Ashley, Rhydoldog in Powys, Wales; Miss Barbara Cartland, Camfield Place, Hertfordshire; The Lady Diana Cooper Little Venice, London; Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth, Derbyshire; Miss Jean Muir of Kensington, London, Daphne Fielding, The Laundry, Avon and others.
Let's hear what these women have to say about their houses...
Laura Ashley:My own attitude towards decorating an old house is to find out all one possibly can about the house and even, if possible, the colours used.
More than anything else, what one needs in one's house is the right atmosphere...
I found a house in Bloomsbury, a quarter not the legend it became, for £90 a year, with Adams mantlelpieces and the right window-panes and a charming garden with forest trees.
You can sit in the drawing-room on the first floor and be unaware that a thousand people are in the house at the same time. So well built is it that the faintest murmur, like a distant sea, is all you hear.
Like Mrs. Tiggywinkle of Beatrix Potter fame, I live in a laundry - the old laundry of Badminton House, owned by the Duke of Beaufort. It was built in 1662 - a sundial marks this date.
Once you have eliminated all the things you don't like, you get down to the bare essentials and the formula that is perfect for yourself. The effect of white space is to amplify any other colours in the room.