Book Shorts

The story of the 20th-century creation of a Palladian villa is beautifully presented in this coffee-table book

Written by an architectural historian, the book describes the building of Henbury and the making of its interiors

Henbury Hall © Val Corbett

The Henbury Hall of this title is the second on the site in Cheshire, the first, a Neo-Classical house originally built in 1742 was demolished in 1957, following many alterations and dilapidations (not to mention the disastrous introduction in 1876 to the estate by the then owner, the silk manufacturer, Thomas Brocklehurst, of the grey squirrel from America). The estate was bequeathed in 1980 to Sebastian de Ferranti, whose fortune was made by the family’s electronics (and controversial arms manufacturing) business. He engaged the architect, Julian Bicknell, the painter Felix Kelly and the interior decorator David Mlinaric to create for him a version of Palladio’s Villa Rotunda, near Vicenza. The building, made of brick and concrete, faced with limestone, was finished in 1986. This lavish picture book—written by the accomplished architectural historian, Jeremy Musson, with an introduction by the Prince of Wales, a doughty fighter for traditional building styles and skills—is a record of the house’s building and a room-by-room description of the interiors, along with a chapter on the estate’s gardens.

  • Jeremy Musson, Henbury: an Extraordinary House, Pimpernel Press, 242pp, £50 (hb)