Hussey, Christopher [Edward Clive]

Date born: 1899

Place born: London, United Kingdom

Date died: 1970

Place died: Scotney Castle, Kent, United Kingdom

Editor, Country Life magazine, 1933-1940; architectural historian of British country homes. Hussey's father was Major William Clive Hussey of the Royal Engineers and his mother Mary Ann Herbert. His grandfather was Edward Hussey, from whom Hussey inherited the family estate, Scotney castle, at Lamberhust, Kent. He attended Eaton before serving in World War I as second lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. After the war, a family friend, H. Avray Tipping, the principal architectural advisory to Country Life, urged him to join the editorial staff. He attended Christ Church, Oxford University between 1919–21, gaining a degree in modern European history. His first architectural article was published in Country Life, a magazine he would be associated with his entire life, on his own estate, in 1920. In 1927 he published a book on landscape esthetic, called The Picturesque. He was named architectural advisor to Country Life in 1930. That year published an article on Blickling Hall, Norfolk, the estate of Philip Kerr, eleventh marquess of Lothian. He was named editor of Country Life in 1933. Lothian by this time was won over to state support of country homes; his famous 1934 speech at the National Trust's annual meeting resulted in the National Trust's sponsorship of country houses, an idea Hussey had lobbied for for years. In 1936 he married Elizabeth Maud Smiley. Hussey was instrumental in encouraging the early research of a secretary of the magazine staff, Dorothy Stoud (q.v.) to garden history and directing her to John Summerson (q.v.), where she became an assistant at the John Soane Museum. During his years at the magazine, his focused articles on the architectural heritage of England cause Lord Runciman to remark that Hussey was "the keeper of the architectural conscience of the nation" (Crook). He left Country Life in 1940, remaining architectural advisor until 1964. As part of the memorial to Edward Luytens, Hussey published a biography of the architect in 1950. In 1951 published a survey book to encourage appreciation of Britain's heritage by the general public, English Country Houses Opened to the Public. The first of his series of Georgian architecture, English Country Houses: Early Georgian 1715-1766 appeared in 1955. It was quickly followed by Mid-Georgian in 1956 and Late Georgian in 1958. This era of architecture was one he shared with his friend, Summerson, who also published on the topic. His final book, English Gardens and Landscapes, 1700-1750 appeared in 1967 along with a reprint of his 1927 Picturesque.

The Picturesque raised to the English-reading public the notion of perhaps Britain's most important contribution to architecture: the integrated and planned landscape. Hussey's book looked at the esthetic and how is was practiced and dissemination in 17th- and 18th-century garden design. As editor of Country Life, he commissioned photographers to photograph the estates covered in the magazine; today the archives of Country Life comprise one of the most important collections aristocratic British architecture. His articles fostered an interest in historic preservation, begun in the 1920s when important works of architecture were being demolished.

Home Country: United Kingdom

Sources: Cornforth, John. "Christopher Hussey and Modern Architecture, [part 1: Continuity and Progress. Country Life 170 (October 22, 1981): 1366-1368; Cornforth, John. "Christopher Hussey and Modern Architecture, [part 2]: Qualities of Generalship. Country Life 170 (October 29, 1981): 1468-70; Cornforth, John. "The Husseys and the Picturesque." (part 1) Country Life 165 (May 10, 1979): 1438-1441; "The Husseys and the Picturesque." (part 2). Country Life 165 (May 17, 1979): 1522-1525; O. L, J. S., and Edwards, Ralph. "Christopher Hussey Influence on Preservation. The Times (London) March 25, 1970, p. 14; [obituaries:] "Mr C. Hussey Country Houses Historian." The Times (London) March 21, 1970, p. 10; Hellyer, Arthur. "Christopher Hussey. C.B.E. 1899-1970." Garden History Society Newsletter 14 (September 1971): 19-21; Cornforth, John. "Chirstopher Hussey: Architectural Advisor to Country Life." Country Life 142 (March 26, 1970):767, and (April 2, 1970) and (April 9, 1970): ; "1500 Articles." Country Life 148 (September 24 1970): 761; Pevsner, Nikolaus. "Chirstopher Hussey." Architectural Review 148 (August 1970): 130; Crook,J. Mordaunt. "Christopher Hussey." Royal Institute of British Architects Journal 77 (June1970): A63.

Bibliography: [complete bibliography:] Crook, J. Mordaunt. "Christopher Hussey: A Bibliographical Tribute." Architectural History 13 (1970): 5-29; and Smith, H. Clifford. Buckingham Palace, its Furniture, Decoration & History. London: Country Life, 1931; English Country Houses. volume 1: Early Georgian, 1715-1760, volume 2: Mid Georgian, 1760-1800, volume 3: Late Georgian, 1800-1840. London: Country Life, 1955, 1956, 1958; English Country Houses Open to the Public. London: Country Life, 1951; The Life of Sir Edwin Lutyens. London: Country Life, 1950; The Picturesque: Studies in a Point of View. London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1927.