28 AUGUST 1926, Page 27



In a parish, of no great dimensions, some 25 miles from London, stand two spacious houses in the setting of pleasant gardens. The railway is near by. The country is delightfully English, so English that the commons, now purple with ling, still give grazing to the cottage's' geese. Occasionally, perhaps, these stout birds run some little risk from golf balls, sometimes it may be by a Lord of the Manor, it may be by a more expert member of the Artisans' Club. It is a liberal education to live in such a place surrounded by an aura of the deep, deep country, and yet within touch of the greatest and best city in the world. How is it-then that no rich men any longer wish to dwell in this Paradise ? The two houses stand empty, and have long stood empty. When they are put up to auction no one bids, and no rumours are abroad of likely buyers or tenants. The neighbours groan under the increase of rates due to the absence of the chief rate-payers. Houses and gardens both begin to degenerate. These two houses are types. From the very doors of London up to a certain palace -in Northumberland I know of big houses like them. In one an odd room or two out of 100 or so is inhabited by the lordly owner ; but most of them do not house so much as a caretaker. We call the houses " white elephants," a cumbrous fauna that no one will make a pet of.