What is your favourite British Stately Home and why?
Do you think that the families that own these great houses should be taxed so heavily and therefore have to give them up to be paid for by the British Taxpayer and donations to the National trust and British heritage?
My favorite would be Montacute House in Somerset - a great Elizabethan house with a great garden, but all on a modest scale (relatively modest that is) I don't think it's a bad idea to tax the wealthy, but death duties are not helpful or fair IMHO.
I haven't yet seen them all, so I can't choose a favorite at this point. But I do think it was right to tax them heavily, although it couldn't have come at a worse time for the families who owned them.
Their fortunes were already shrinking (or had already shrunk drastically) due to the fact that they were founded on ownership of vast amounts of land surrounding the manor house. Land which in turn had been divided into small parcels and rented to the tenants living on and farming them, with the lord receiving not only the rent but the majority of the profits from each crop grown.
The Industrial Revolution around the turn of the 20th century changed all that. With tenants leaving the land in droves to work in factories, owning thousands of unproductive acres was no longer a "good" thing. Worse, since most or all of the land was entailed it couldn't be sold, and in Society at that time, investing whatever was left of the family fortune in commercial ventures was a no-no. So refusing to change the traditions of nearly a thousand years was already working against them. The taxes were merely the last nail in the financial coffin of the landed gentry.
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