Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mansions Then And Now

The Gandalf's spent yesterday celebrating a significant wedding anniversary.

We stayed at a splendid country house, now an upscale hotel. Built 1620 and updated to match the designs of Andrea Palladio in the 1700s, it's set in about 1,000 acres of ancient parkland. In the evening, kitted out in full evening dress, we enjoyed a superb performance of Don Giovanni, staged in another country house - this one in a mock-grecian style.

Which reminded me of the modest aspirations of America's founders. Jefferson's Monticello and Monroe's Ash Lawn are a fraction of the size and majesty of the typical English country house of that time.

The gap has now closed - the likes of George Soros and other financial fat cats have mansions quite as big as Brit ones.