English Houses by Ben Pentreath – A Review by Sarah Hyde

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Opening Ben Pentreath’s wonderful new book, English Houses is like going home, to the England of our imagination, of childhood. An Albion of wet herbaceous borders. England as you remember it and perhaps would now like it to be. And this is actually exactly what Ben Pentreath has done.  He has gone to his home and the houses of some of his dearest friends, with photographer Jan Baldwin and together they have captured that most elusive quality. 

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This book is as much about reflection as hard and fast direction. Ben Pentreath's respect for his clients’ confidentiality is impressive and the reader who is looking for a guide  of “how to do a Ben Pentreath” will be disappointed, it does not exist. However, for someone who wants to see what Ben Pentreath likes, what informs his extraordinary sense of style, this is a good place to start and a fantastic opportunity to look at a diverse array of delightful  houses, all selected with the masters eye.

From a gorgeous flat in Jermyn St we travel to The Temple,  Sir John Soane’s fishing lodge and all that remains of his first estate.  This divine building was saved by the great David Hicks before passing to Charles Beresford-Clark and then into Veere Greeneys stewardship.  One of Ben Pentreath’s rule breakers (infuriatingly there really are no rules)  it has a fitted kitchen and is the most wonderful interpretation of luxury neo-classical decoration.

Through the glossy pages we are invited into other peoples drawing rooms and kitchens, and by the time we get to the Country House section they are really quite grand.  Lived in houses that seem to contain layers of style.  On occasion they even accommodate things that you would not necessarily choose, like the turquoise washbasin at Tremanton Castle which works brilliantly in a house that was actually decorated only five years ago, giving the impression that you can’t just buy this look. Perhaps not all is as it seems?

Published on 8th of September. Please come and listen to Ben Pentreath discussing  English House on 18th September at the Decorex Seminar Theatre at 11.00am