Between the ostentatious watch ads and emaciated models displaying fashions from an H.P. Lovecraft story in WSJ Magazine, this month we find an article about English manors run like bed-and-breakfasts:
Some of England’s peers have found more creative solutions. They not only inhabit their ancestral piles, but run them as businesses too, dangling their glittery goods like fishing lures to attract much-needed cash. “In the United States, we tend to have a romantic view of owning a great British estate,” says Tom Savage, the director of museum affairs at Winterthur, the 175-room Delaware estate of the late chemical heir Henry Francis du Pont, which houses the foremost collection of American furniture and decorative objects. “But often the veil falls when you see inheritors to whom collecting is not a choice but an encumbering obligation: Out of economic necessity, they’re doing everything in their power to hold on to what they’ve got.”
For more than 20 years, Savage has been hooking up connoisseurs of the decorative arts with the owners of England’s great estates, where most of the finest antiques are to be found. He regularly takes groups of 12 to 16 Americans on private tours of British homes and country houses, even having them stay (as paying guests) for a night or two. Not in the old laundry or the converted stables, but in the mansion itself while the owners look on, content in the knowledge that the visiting Yank is helping to keep their homestead humming.
If I’m going to England for a vacation, I’m going to have to consider staying overnight with nobility, werd.