Many of London's historic houses and even greater numbers of domestic interiors have been lost to us since 1939, as a result of political and social changes, war and a tradition of continual rebuilding. But, thanks to the unique photographic archive of Country Life, this book allows us a vivid glimpse of an age that now seems impossibly remote - the era of great political hostesses in their Park Lane Mansions, of society beauties in smart Art Deco flats and of famous painters at work in the studio houses of Holland Park. The 200 images reproduced here, mostly taken between 1918 and 1939, are arranged to follow the route of a leisurely walk through the capital's most exclusive residential districts - from the heart of Westminster to St James's, Mayfair and Park Lane, then 'North of the Park' and finally west from Belgravia to Kensington. They show the vanished magnificence of the interiors of the great aristocratic houses like Norfolk House or Chesterfield House.
We are taken inside Robert Adam's Home House when it was home to Samuel Courtauld's celebrated collection of Impressionist masterpieces and shown the monumental Classical interiors of Dorchester House shortly before they were swept away. There are also many examples of the fashionable decorative arts of the interwar years, including Lady Diana Cooper's bathroom, 'Chips' Channon's staggering dining rooms and the elegant apartment of Lord and Lady Louis Mountbatten. As well as being a unique record of some of London's finest homes, this book is a collection of some of the twentieth century's finest architectural photography accompanied by an illuminating commentary by a leading historian of domestic architecture. John Cornforth, who died in 2004, was a regular contributor to Country Life for nearly forty years. His other books included The Country Houses of England 1948 -1998 and, with John Fowler, English Decoration in the 18th Century.
John Cornforth's books include London Interiors: From the Archives of Country Life, Queen Elizabeth at Clarence House, a study of Her Majesty as a collector, commissioned by the Royal Collection and published in 1996, and The Country Houses of England 1948-1998, published in 1998 to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Historic Houses Association.