Clouds: The Biography of a Country House

Front Cover
Yale University Press, Jan 1, 1993 - Architecture - 278 pages
Almost before it was completed in 1886, Clouds was being described as 'the house of the age'. Designed by Philip Webb, one of Britain's greatest architects, this country house in Wiltshire was commissioned by Percy and Madeline Wyndham, an aristocratic couple with a sophisticated taste in design. In this handsomely illustrated book Caroline Dakers tells the story of Clouds: its planning and creation; the art commissioned to adorn its walls; the activities and interests of the three generations of Wyndhams who lived in it; the famous people who visited it; the sale of the house in the 1930s; and its eventual transformation into a charitable institution.
Dakers vividly recreates the lives and personalities of Clouds' colourful owners. Percy and Madeline Wyndham were at the heart of late Victorian cultural life, and their guests were talented writers and artists such as Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, John Singer Sargent, Leighton, Whistler, and Watts. The Wyndhams' eldest son George, Secretary of State for Ireland and tipped as a future prime minister, died tragically early at the age of 49. For his nephew, Dick, the last Wyndham to own Clouds, economic forces had turned the 'palace of art' into a vast white elephant. The unique collection of art treasures was divided and sold, the estate broken up, and the house dynamited to a more convenient size.
The book not only shows the significance of Clouds within the history of architecture, art, and design, but also uses the house to trace the changing relation between patrons and artists and the decline of the political and economic power of the landed class. A tale of achievement and tragedy, the story of Clouds chronicles an era of moneyed taste and leisure probably unparalleled this century.


At Home
The Clouds Estate and the Agricultural
Clouds Rises
Country House
Death Comes to Clouds 191014
The Impact of the First World War
Clouds Abandoned
From Home to Institution
Note on Sources

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About the author (1993)

Caroline Dakers is senior lecturer in cultural studies at Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design.

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