In the second volume of A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powell introduces Stourwater Castle, the fictional country home of the Lord Beaverbrook-esque business magnate and government minister Sir Magnus Donners. Arriving by car on a warm September morning in 1928, Powell’s narrator, Nick Jenkins, muses on the sight before him: “Here was the Middle Age, from the pages of Tennyson, or Scott, at its most elegant: all sordid and painful elements subtly removed.” For Jenkins, the combined effect of the cobbled quadrangle, manicured gardens, and tapestry-lined Great Hall is somehow disconcerting. Donners’s precisely restored pile is too full of genuine antiques to be a Hollywood set, but too perfect to reflect its real history.

Save for its Georgian origins and cliff-top...

 

New to The New Criterion?

Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.

Popular Right Now