It has been several years since I visited England (I try to go every other year, but this year has been too busy), so instead of a real life visit, I am contenting myself with virtual visits through books and the internet.
One place that has always intrigued me is Highgrove House, the family home of the Prince of Wales since 1980. The house was built in 1798, and over the years passed through ownership of various families.
This is the earliest picture of Highgrove that I could find from the 'Prince Charles era'. When Prince Charles purchased the house in 1980, it increased speculation that he was preparing to settle down (and indeed, his marriage to Diana took place in February of 1981). Based on the aerial photograph of Highgrove, it appears that only one side has a driveway entrance - note the design of the facade of the house, with its limestone portico. (image source)
According to Wikipedia, Prince Charles embellished the plain exterior of the building in the late 1980s by adding a new balustrade, pediment, and classical pilasters of Prince Charles' own design. I am guessing that this image (showing Prince William and Prince Harry at least a decade older) was after the front of the house was transformed. The new pediment makes the three levels of the house relate to one another, and the front door seems more approachable and friendly. The addition of the greenery also softens the look of the house. (image source)
Another view from the same vantage point. I really like the design of the double front doors and the overlight with an interesting pattern. I wonder why the one window above the front door has shutters, when the other windows do not?
Prince Charles is an avid gardener, and the grounds of Highgrove have provided endless inspiration for him (it is reputed that he has spent more than £500,000 on the gardens). Several books have been written on the gardens of Highgrove (which include a wild garden, a formal garden, and a kitchen garden), including the Gardens of Highgrove (click here) and Organic Gardening (click here). There is also a book on the Highgrove Estate.
|The wild garden area changes appearance all year long. Image source
Oak pavilion in the gardens. Note the chimney pots and urns on the balustrade. (image source)
The flickr account for the British Monarchy has some beautiful informal pictures from Highgrove.
|An allee of trees leads to the side view of the house. Image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy
A better view of the gate at the end of the vista. Image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy
An interesting dovecote or gardening shed. Image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy
When researching this post, I came across an intricate chocolate replica of Highgrove. Click here to read article.
For more English country house inspiration, I highly recommend the book The English Country House, by Mary Miers. The book is my favorite coffee table book at the moment (taking a place of honor in the living room), but it is also a wonderful read full of the stories of quite a few remarkable houses in England. Click here to view or order on Amazon.
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