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Magazine    October 2001


Three years ago, in Tatton Park Estate in Cheshire, England, a dying 170-year-old oak was felled—and given new life. In a carefully planned sequence of events, every last part of the oak—down to the bark, leaves and even the sawdust that was left after the timber was cut—was distributed to more than 70 British designers, artists and craftspeople, who created an amazing array of furniture, sculpture, toys, jewelry and books with the wood that they got from that one tree.

The onetree project, as it came to be known, is beautifully described and illustrated in a book by the same name produced by Garry Olson and Peter Toaig and with a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales. Olson and Toaig’s mission is to raise awareness of the need to preserve British woodlands—a sentiment shared by Prince Charles—and their project serves as an inspiring example of environmental renewal.

The stages of the story, from the tree’s felling to the local schoolchildrens’ planting acorns from the oak on the grounds of the estate, were photographed by Robert Walker, who documents every one of the magnificent items created from the Tatton timber. We offer pictures of a few of them here; the book shows what a host of highly developed imaginations did with the rest of the wood.

Manor Houses of England

Photographer Christopher Simon Sykes and author Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd have produced several picture books on great houses in England, Wales and Ireland, and Manor Houses of England, their latest sequel, illustrates the development of English architectural history from monastic times (12th and 13th centuries) to Victorian Gothic.

A manor house, which historically was the seat of the lord of a specific English territorial unit, came to be regarded as a small country house a century or so ago. (Small is a subjective term when looking at some of the turreted brick or stone monoliths in the tome's 256 pages.) The book covers 40 manor houses ranging from simple Norman halls to picturesque Tudor houses and estates built in the 17th century during the reign of the Stuarts. “Those chosen are magical spaces with romance, history and atmosphere. They seem to breathe the fragrance of Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales.”

Many of the manor houses were drastically altered or left to degenerate in the 18th century, but “in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the manor house’s romance was discovered by antiquarians, Arts and Crafts enthusiasts or recently impoverished aristocrats.” Thus most of the dwellings covered in the book are privately owned, and the stories of how they were restored are given as much space as the history of the buildings themselves—a tribute to the families that painstakingly recreated these gems of English country life.

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by Garry Olson and Peter Toaig
Merrell, $29.95

Manor Houses of England
by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, with photography by Christopher Simon Sykes
The Vendome Press, $85.00
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