For Le Corbusier (Towards a New Architecture, ed. F. Etchells, 1927) "the plan is the generator," and this belief lies behind Gomme and Maguire's long and idiosyncratic book. Plans do come before elevations, and anyone seriously wishing to understand domestic architecture should study plans before being seduced by the blandishments of style and ornament.

The focus of their study is the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the loose domestic planning of the Middle Ages gave way in Britain to a more compact system that reached its apogee in the forty years or so after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. This is not a new field of inquiry. Domestic planning looms large in Mark Girouard's Life in the English Country House (1978) and his Robert Smythson and the Elizabethan Country House (1983), and more recently there have been...

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