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Lady of the House: Elite 19th Century Women and their Role in the English Country House by Charlotte Furness looks at the lives of: Harriet Leveson-Gower, Countess Granville; Lady Mary Isham of Lamport Hall; and Elizabeth Manners, Duchess of Rutland.

These women developed vast estates, oversaw huge architectural changes to some of the most impressive country houses in England and were immensely successful in business.  They were well ahead of their time in many respects and deserve to be celebrated.  This newly published book explores these three genteel women who were born, raised, lived and died within the world of England’s Country Houses. 

They were incredible women who endured tremendous tragedy and worked alongside their husbands to create a legacy that we are still benefiting from today.

Harriet Leveson-Gower, Countess Granville was the second born child of the infamous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who married her aunt’s lover, raised his illegitimate children and reigned supreme as Ambassadress over the Parisian elite.

Lady Mary Isham lived at Lamport Hall with her family where, despite great tragedy, she was responsible for developing a house and estate whilst her husband remained ‘the silent Baronet’ Elizabeth Manners, Duchess of Rutland hailed from Castle Howard and used her upbringing to design and build a castle and gardens at Belvoir suitable for a Duke and Duchess that inspired a generation of country house interiors.  These women were expected simply to produce children, to be active members of society, to give handsomely to charity and to look the part.  Instead they succeeded in business, took a keen role in politics as well as successfully managing all the expectations of an aristocratic lady.

The author, Charlotte Furness was born and raised in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.  After completing a Bachelor Degree in English, and a Master’s Degree in Country House Studies at the University of Leicester, she started a career in heritage, working for English Heritage and the trust-managed Lamport Hall.  She has also worked at Harewood House, Temple Newsam House and Renishaw Hall.  In this field she has come across many stories which, unless told, would have been lost in the annals of time.  She now works as a full-time writer and sees it as her mission to bring these forgotten stories to the attention of as many readers as possible, to preserve them so that they can be enjoyed in their full glory.  Her blog, The Country House Hag, shares snippets of her experience of working in heritage and her knowledge surrounding heritage and history.

Lady of the House: Elite 19th Century Women and their Role in the English Country House is available at £12.99 from the publisher Pen & Sword Books Ltd online at

Reproduced with permission from the Lamport Hall trustees 

Lady of the House