The Life of the House by Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill

The Life of the House: How Rooms Evolve  by distinguished designer Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill was published in October, 2012, by Rizzoli.  Like her previous volumes, this one is filled with brilliant photographs and engaging copy.

Victoria here. I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by Lady Henrietta in Chicago recently, under the auspices of The Royal Oak Foundation and the Chicago branch of the English-Speaking Union, held at The Casino, a private club renowned for its ambiance and neo-regency decor.

The Casino, with Water Tower Place in the background
 and the Hancock Center at the left

The Royal Oak Foundation supports the National Trust of Britain and presents programs in New York, Chicago, Washington, and other cities, featuring leading experts on history, architecture, landscape and related subjects.  Members also receive free admission to all NT properties, a perk I have often benefited from, as well as sponsoring tours and special events.

Lady Henrietta presented a fascinating account of  how domestic architecture has changed over the years and yet survives, sometimes after considerable changes.  She talked of houses from Melford Hall in Norfolk, built in the 16th century…

…to Homewood, in Surrey, a modernist structure built in 1958.  Both are National Trust properties.

Lady Henrietta also talked about a number of her projects in Britain and in the U.S., and one was of particular interest to me, the story of Easton Neston, a stately home in Northamptonshire. It was built in 1702 by architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. A few years ago, the 3rd Baron Hesketh sold the house to Max Leon, a Russian American fashion executive.  Some of us will remember when the furnishings of this great home were sold by Sotheby’s auction in May, 2005.

Easton Neston, from Architectural Digest

The designer shared some of her projects in renovating the great house, which ranged from the need to re-do plumbing and wiring to integrating Max’s collection of contemporary art into the classic interiors.

Easton Neston, from Architectural Digest

After the talk, I found an interesting article about the renovations, which you can read here. The article, with many pictures, tells about the house and Max’s lavish lifestyle as well.

Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill

The author/speaker is the eldest daughter of the 11th Duke of Marlborough and spent much of her life at Blenheim Palace; no wonder she is so well known as an interior designer!  You can access her website here.

Below are some of Lady Henrietta’s previous books, all quite lovely and worth anyone’s coffee table, even if the surrounding decor its not quite up to her example!

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