Country Life (magazine)

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Country Life
Country Life (magazine) logo.png
Editor Mark Hedges
Former editors See editors section below
Categories Lifestyle (rural)
Frequency Weekly
Circulation 38,739 (ABC Jan - Dec 2013)[1]
Print and digital editions.
Publisher IPC Media, Time Inc.
Year founded 1897
Country United Kingdom
Based in London

Country Life is a British weekly magazine, based in London at 110 Southwark Street, and owned by IPC Media, a Time Inc. subsidiary.


Hudson House, the former Country Life offices in Southampton Street, London. Designed by Edwin Lutyens and built in 1904.

Country Life was launched in 1897,[2] incorporating Racing Illustrated. At this time it was owned by Edward Hudson, the owner of Lindisfarne Castle and various Lutyens-designed houses including The Deanery in Sonning. At that time golf and racing served as its main content, as well as the property coverage, initially of manorial estates, that has become its mainstay. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the late Queen Mother, used to appear frequently on its front cover.

The frontispiece of each issue usually features a studio portrait photograph of a young woman from a landed British family, typically timed to coincide with the announcement of their marriage. Its subjects are popularly known as "Girls in Pearls", and show the enduring appeal of upper class British circles to a wider readership.

In 1997, the centenary of the magazine was celebrated by a special issue, the publishing of a book by Sir Roy Strong, the airing of a BBC2 TV programme on a year in the life of the magazine, and staging a Gold Medal winning garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. In 1999, the magazine launched its new website.

In 2007, the magazine celebrated its 110th anniversary with a special souvenir issue on 4 January.[3] Starting on Wednesday 7 May 2008 the magazine is issued each Wednesday, having been on sale each Thursday for the past 111 years, with the earlier day being achieved using electronic publishing technology, with the magazine retaining its usual Monday deadline.[4]


The first several dozen pages of each issue are devoted to colour advertisements for upmarket residential property, which are one of the best known attractions of the magazine, and popular with everyone from the super rich looking for a country house or estate to those who can only aspire to own such a property.

The magazine covers the pleasures and joys of rural life. It is primarily concerned with rural communities and their environments as well as the concerns of country dwellers and landowners and has a diverse readership which, although mainly UK based is also international. Much of its success has historically been built on its coverage of country house architecture and gardening at a time when the architectural press largely ignored this building type. An extensive photographic archive has resulted, now of great importance to architectural historians.

The other rural pursuits and interests covered include hunting, shooting, farming, equestrian news and gardening and there are regular news and opinion pieces as well as a firm engagement with rural politics. There are reviews of books, food and wine, art and architecture (also many offers) and antiques and crafts. Illustrative material includes the Tottering-by-Gently cartoon by Annie Tempest. The property section claims to have more prime agents than anywhere else.

Recent feature articles have included Britain's Best View, The Cream of Counties survey, England's Favourite Village, Britain's oldest inhabited dwelling (2003), and Dream Acres[5] imaginary landscape (2009).


  • James Edmund Vincent 1897–1900
  • Peter Anderson Graham 1900–1925
  • W E Barber 1925–1933
  • Christopher Hussey 1933–1940 (previously Architectural Editor)
  • F Whitaker 1940–1958
  • John Adams 1958–1973
  • Michael Wright 1973–1984
  • Marcus Binney 1984–1986 (previously Architectural Editor)
  • Jenny Green 1986–1992
  • Clive Aslet 1993–2006 (previously Deputy Editor, now Editor-at-Large)
  • Mark Hedges 2006–present

Deputy editors:

Architectural editors [dates as architectural writer]:

Gardens editors:

  • Tim Richardson 1995–1999
  • Fred Whitsey
  • Kathryn Bradley-Hole c.2003–present

Notable contributors[edit]

Staff architectural photographers:

  • Charles Latham c1897-c1909
  • Frederick Evans (1853–1945) pre1906-?
  • Alfred E. Henson (1885–1972) 1917-57
  • Alex Starkey 1953-87 (last staff photographer[6])

See also[edit]

  • Country Life books - from the photographic and article archives of Country Life magazine (mostly architectural)
  • The Curious House Guest - a 2005-6 TV series by then Architectural Editor Jeremy Musson on visiting country houses



  • Country Life, 1897-1997: The English Arcadia, by Sir Roy Strong, Boxtree Ltd, 1996, ISBN 7-7777-7642-8, ISBN 978-7-7777-7642-0 (the history of the magazine).
  • Fifty Years of Country Life, by Bernard Darwin, Country Life, 1947 (94 pages, on the first 50 year's history of the magazine).
  • An Everyday Story of Country Life, BBC2, 1997, being a TV documentary filmed over a one-year period in 1996 at the magazine, to celebrate its centenary.

External links[edit]