After being deserted for four decades and having fallen into serious disrepair, the sixteenth-century English country house of the Earls of Shaftesbury has undergone a thorough renovation—from the roof, structural walls, and interiors of St Giles House to the surrounding grounds, gardens, and exquisite shell-lined grotto— all helmed by The 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, Nicholas Edmund Anthony Ashley-Cooper. Chronicling the extensive five year renovation of this storied property, The Rebirth of an English Country House offers a front row seat into the trials and tribulations, and eventual successes, of the renaissance of the property, dramatic transformations that honor the past, while embracing twenty-first-century living.
Beginning the first phase of work in January 2011, Ashley-Cooper offers an intimate and personal account of the dedicated efforts made by the family, and the vast team of experts and contractors, in bringing this grand house back to life. Richly illustrated with archival images and new photography, the book offers readers a look at how the interior spaces and grounds were evaluated, and ultimately brought back to life, by the team of experts tasked with conserving what could be salvaged and sensitively interpreting other spaces with an appreciation for the past and an acknowledgment of the needs of a modern family. Family rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, dining rooms, drawing rooms, a study, tapestry hall, the library, kitchen, sunken garden, grotto, bridges, structural details, and outbuildings are showcased, along with the house’s antique and contemporary furnishings, decorative elements, and works of art. The Rebirth of an English Country House is a testament to the resilience of a family determined to preserve their ancestral home.