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The Gentleman’s House

February 13, 2011

I first heard of Robert Kerr’s book, The Gentleman’s House, from Peter Brears, historic house consultant and food historian, in a lecture he gave to the Attingham Summer School in 2005.  The lecture covered the support spaces of the country house—kitchen, scullery, larder, dairy—which we previously could not imagine would be interesting, but the talk convinced all of us on the program that a book needs to be written on this topic.

Kerr’s book, used as an example by Brears, lays out guidelines for the architecture of the country house and out-buildings.  Kerr was born in 1823, in Scotland and moved to London in 1844.  He was a writer and architect, co-founding the Architectural Association, even becoming its first president.  From 1861-90 Kerr was Professor of the Arts of Construction at King’s College London.  The Gentleman’s House, published in 1844, goes into great detail specifying the preferred distribution of the rooms in the house with respect to sunlight, as well as the layout of doors, windows and furniture within those rooms.  Kerr’s diagram below, with the plan of a window at its center, describes the influences of wind, sun and seasons.  It’s still instructive today as we try to design with sustainability in mind.

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From → Books

One Comment
  1. Appreciate this article. I am a total admirer of most garden related topics. If it enhances my gardening or landscaping skills, I’m in Thanks

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