Noble Ambitions

Noble Ambitions

The Fall and Rise of the Post-War Country House


*A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year 2021*
*Longlisted for the William MB Berger Prize for British Art History*

'Preposterously entertaining' Observer
'Brilliant' Daily Telegraph
'Rollicking' Sunday Times

From the bestselling author of The Long Weekend: a wild, sad and sometimes hilarious tour of the English country house after the Second World War, when Swinging London collided with aristocratic values.

As the sun set slowly on the British Empire in the years after the Second World War, the nation's stately homes were in crisis. Tottering under the weight of rising taxes and a growing sense that they had no place in twentieth-century Britain, hundreds of ancestral piles were dismantled and demolished. Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that so many of these great houses survived, as dukes and duchesses clung desperately to their ancestral seats and tenants' balls gave way to rock concerts, safari parks and day trippers.

From the Rolling Stones rocking Longleat to Christine Keeler rocking Cliveden, Noble Ambitions takes us on a lively tour of these crumbling halls of power, as a rakish, raffish, aristocratic Swinging London collided with traditional rural values. Capturing the spirit of the age, Adrian Tinniswood proves that the country house is not only an iconic symbol, but a lens through which to understand the shifting fortunes of Britain in an era of monumental social change.

Lavishly illustrated in full colour, with over 50 photographs.


  • [A] preposterously entertaining history of the postwar country house... reading it is rather like leafing through an old leather-bound Smythson address book whose well-connected owner has helpfully added waspish notes, gossip and the odd family tree. In other words, it's heaven.
    Rachel Cooke, Observer

About the author

Adrian Tinniswood

Adrian Tinniswood is professorial research fellow in history at the University of Buckingham, adjunct professor of history at Maynooth University and the author of many books on British history, including the Sunday Times bestseller The Long Weekend. He was awarded an OBE for services to heritage, and lives in the west of Ireland.
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