"Land has ceased to be either a profit or a pleasure. It gives one position, and prevents one from keeping it up." - Oscar Wilde, 1895. "I am in an awful state of depression which nothing but champagne can remove." - Johnny Arkwright, 1870. Six months after his mother's death, the heir to Hampton Court was struggling to find the money to pay his brothers their inheritance. But things were about to get a whole lot worse. Johnny's words could have served as the death-knell chorus for his entire social class between 1870 and the First World War - the years of champagne and shambles. In January 1870, Johnny Arkwright was the largest landowner in Herefordshire. But in the second half of the nineteenth century everything changed. From the extravagant processions and balls which celebrated his coming of age, to facing financial ruin at his own son's birthday and the eventual sale of the estate, this book shows, through the example of a prominent family, the downfall of the landed classes. It was a bloodless revolution - born of democracy, fed by the farmer's oldest enemy, the weather, supported by market forces and anti-landlordism - but it was a revolution.
Publisher: The History Press Ltd