Words can hardly convey how proud I am that Country Life magazine has chosen to showcase Stubton Hall in its issue out on 21st October.
My marriage with Kent was a meeting of passions, sometimes shared, sometimes independent. The one passion where we could always agree was that the country houses which populate the British countryside are unparalleled in the world and are a source of infinite interest and beauty. On the mornings when Country Life was delivered to our doorstep in the first post (yes, I remember when London had two postal deliveries per day), he would grab this latest issue and have a very long soak in the bath while pouring over the property pornography Country Life offers on a weekly basis.
This, coupled with my art historical curiosity, led to extended exploring of the countryside, mainly within driving distance of London for a day's excursion, but also for longer trips to discover counties that were not so accessible on a day trip. There was no grand house that Kent could not identify... and it wasn't only the architecture that he admired, but also the furniture, works of art, gardens, parkland and encrustations of generations of family life. Oh, and he adored some of the inhabitants, too.
When we purchased our first house in Lincolnshire over twenty-three years ago we were delighted to be able to restore our very own English country house. We worked on much of the restoration ourselves, learning as we went along how our old house was constructed and what was required to maintain it.
Thus, when Kent and I first saw Stubton Hall we had a dream of what it could become and an idea of what it would take to achieve that dream. In reality our stewardship of Stubton Hall was and continues to be much more challenging than we imagined, but it has also given back infinite rewards. It has been a joy to revive the handsome Hall to a new level of elegance and to share it with the many clients and beloved employees who have passed through its doors in the fourteen years (almost to the day) since we took possession of it.
As two Americans unleashed in the English countryside we were never ordinary, but the dear friends and trusted colleagues that we have made over the years in both Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire have truly made me feel like I belong. Kent and I together, and certainly I alone in his absence, have become immersed in English country life and houses. That's a pretty great achievement for two foreigners.
To have Stubton Hall immortalised in Country Life is a memorial to Kent that he would never have dared to dream of. There is only one magazine that could provoke such awe. Country Life remains the only serious publication on the history of the British country house that is widely read and it is vital to documenting the immense heritage of domestic architecture of Britain. Long may it last!
I humbly thank all of the people who made it possible along the way for Stubton Hall to shine in the pages of this glossy magazine, not forgetting John Goodall the editor, Jeremy Musson the author who made it happen, and Paul Highnam, the master of naturally-lit country house photography who appeared just as quarantine was starting to unlock on some particularly beautiful days of June sunshine.
I have no doubt that Kent's spirit will be belting out the lyrics to 'The Stately Homes of England' as Country Life hits the doormat.