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3.4 out of 5 stars11
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on July 5, 2012
I love my old VHS tapes of a previous series about English Houses, which tied in with an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art back in the 80's. I cherish them because they really are well done. This series is flawed though. There were issues with the sound: sometimes the music was drowning out whomever the hostess of the series was interviewing. There were too many repetitive shots of the properties from the outside and not enough focus on the actual treasures the title promotes, unlike the previous series which was all about the artistic wonders stored in those old places, with loving camerawork for the viewer to enjoy. I was also incredibly frustrated at how often the hostess of the series would comment on some portrait or work of art in front of her or behind her without there being a decent close up view of the work of art or portrait. And sometimes the camera angles were illogical, making it hard to see the art being discussed. Very disappointing. I recommend firing up the old VHS player and getting copies of the older series - which I wish they would transfer to DVD!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon April 1, 2012
This is up close and personal looks at the fine art, décor, and antiquities as they meet Baroque architecture, kingly landscapes, and historical dwellings. It an excellent docent narration by Selina Scott, making the education of some of the most elaborate Britain fine homes a pure bit of bliss. Close-ups are almost like holding the items, and helicopter views of the grounds are something only a DVD like this can give you--well, unless you are as rich as the people who built these mansions.

5 delightful homes, one per episode with
SUBTITLES available & "Behind the Architectural Styles" text bonus, plus a 22 min featurette (also with SDH subtitles). And a viewer's guide if you yet want to learn more.

1 BURGHLEY HOUSE: Cecils of Burghley, treasure collections since 1500s & England's most famous Elizabethan house. Sir William Cecil builder/architect. See Antonio Verrio's "A Vision of Hell" (17th cent) & Heaven room (the artist's masterpiece.) Wedding gift from Cosimo di Medici of a marble cabi9net, marble sculptures back to roman art, A Queen Elizabeth I portrait, & Henry VIII portrait (Eliz father) a portrait well known. Capability Brown, architect, rebuilt the roofline and landscape. Victoria (as princess), 1844 as Queen visited. Too much to list.

2 CHATSWORTH: Cavendish (mid 16th) supported Wm III. Capability Brown's landscape lives on here as well, with visitors welcome since 18th cent. Louis Laguerre's painted ceiling is unchanged. Suites built for a King went royally unused, but still ready. Verrio joined Laguerre in ceilings, Samuel Watson carved Baroque elaborateness. See works of Van Dyke, Thomas Gainsborough, Reynolds, Architect Wyattville, and a 120 yr perfectly preserved private theatre by Wm Helmsley. A gravity fed fountain, WOW.

3 BLENHEIM PALACE: Winston Churchill's birthplace, built for the man who won the 1704 Battle of Blenheim, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, defeating Louis XIV. English Baroque perfection by Nicholas Hawksmoor and John Vanbrugh. 15 yr and contains Grinling Gibbons carving, Laguerre ceilings, battle tapestries, Capability Brown landscape, and completed with the home's Willis pipe organ, which provides music through the tour.

4 HOLKHAM HALL: Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leichester, took a 6 yr. Grand Tour ending in 1718. Purchases yet hosed at Holkham. A Palladian mansion, Marble Hall of Roman style in alabaster from Derbyshire. Wm Kent orig architect. Saloon filled with Peter Paul Rubens & Anthony Van Dyck. Many secret doors, 25,000 acres, and the Earl's portrait by Gainsborough.
A good companion DVD for this episode is Brian Sewell's Grand Tour of Italy, see where the Earl toured for 6 years since most of his tour was Italy.

5 BOUGHTON HOUSE: English Versailles, Ralph Montague, former Fr. Ambassador, inherited the Northamptonshire house filling it with art & treasures of France. 40, yes I meant to say 40, Anthony Van Dycks. Also Gainsborough and so many more. Wm III would visit in 1694 and nothing has changed sine then. See England's first parquet floor. Large armory too, including an early gatling gun.

History, Fine Arts, Architecture, Travel, Antiques, all reasons for this to be in a home, public, or educational (HS to Univ) library.
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on June 19, 2012
First of all, I'm a real Anglophile and can sit still for endless videos about the Royal Family, Stately Houses, pomp and circumstance of any kind BUT this defeated me. The s-l-o-w progress through the houses, with repeated shots of things already seen, the endless long views of the houses from the air, the stifling commentary of Selina Scott all combine for one long snooze.
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on February 24, 2014
This was not what it appeared to be. I had expected to see the interior of some beautiful old British homes but was shown maybe 3 rooms in each. Most interior shots were of the same spot in the house, over and over again. I was very disappointed.
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on January 6, 2013
This film , spent time in only one or two rooms of the homes, giving long narratives on the details, and misssing other rooms, few if any views of the gardens or outside. 15 minutes on the foyeer was too much
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on October 13, 2013
I thought the piece on Chatsworth would be a rehash of other DVDs out on the subject, but they took a different approach revealing new material not covered in the other DVDs. The other segments were equally as well done though I'm not sure I'd want a room-size painting of Hell in my home!
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on May 24, 2013
It is not as comprehensive as the VHS version that came out in the 90's but it is a very excellent overview of the beautiful historical architecture with a lot of great history education blended in.
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on March 7, 2015
Very disappointed with the DVD's. Focuses on the star of the show and not the house. Just shows a few rooms with a short chat.
Save your money.
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on March 17, 2014
I would rather see more of the houses and less of the moderator. The properties are beautiful and the series does not do them justice.
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on March 25, 2013
This is a good overview of some of the treasure houses of Britain. I just wish it was in high definition.
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