Country Life (magazine)

Country Life is a British weekly perfect-bound, glossy magazine, based in London at 110 Southwark Street (until March 2016 when it became based in Farnborough, Hampshire), and owned by TI Media.

Country Life
EditorMark Hedges
Former editorsSee editors section below
CategoriesLifestyle (rural)
Circulation39,257 (ABC Jan – Dec 2015)[1]
Print and digital editions.
PublisherTI Media
Year founded1897 (1897)
CountryUnited Kingdom
Based inLondon, England


Country Life was launched in 1897,[2][3] 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, which is still such a large part of the magazine. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the late Queen Mother, used to appear frequently on its front cover. Now the magazine covers a range of subjects in depth, from gardens and gardening to country house architecture, fine art and books, and property to rural issues, luxury products and interiors.

The frontispiece of each issue usually features a portrait photograph of a young woman of society, or, on occasion, a man of society.

In 2016, in its 119th year, Country Life was the subject of a three-part documentary series made by Spun Gold and which aired on BBC Two on consecutive Friday nights in March. The magazine has also celebrated its best-ever selling issue – the double issue from Christmas 2015 – and a 6th ABC increase in a row, which is an achievement no other weekly magazine publishing original content can claim.

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 a new website.

In 2007, the magazine celebrated its 110th anniversary with a special souvenir issue on 4 January.[4] 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.


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. In addition. monthly luxury and interiors sections offer readers some informed ideas about the latest in jewellery, style and travel, and interiors.

Recent feature articles have included Charles, Prince of Wales guest-editing an issue of Country Life in 2013, a historic revelation which revealed the true face of Shakespeare for the first time in 2015, and in 2016 an exclusive on where the Great Fire of London really began in 1666. There was a special commemorative issue in June 2016 on the occasion of the Queen's 90th birthday, and a Best of Britain celebrating the very best of what the United Kingdom has to offer, from craftsmen to landscapes.

BBC Documentary

In March 2016, Country Life was featured in a three-part documentary series produced by Spun Gold which aired on BBC2 called Land of Hope and Glory, British Country Life. The films sought to show some elements of modern rural life which although feature often in Country Life magazine, are rarely seen in the mass media.

Topics covered included the beauty of the countryside and the centuries and traditions of the people who live there as well as some of the challenges faced by those who live and work exclusively on the land, from property owners to farmers and those employed in country pursuits.


  • 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:

  • Clive Aslet 1989–1993 (previously architectural editor)
  • Michael Hall 1998–2004 (previously architectural editor, current editor of Apollo)
  • Jessica Fellowes 2004–2008
  • Rupert Uloth 2008–2016
  • Kate Green 2016–present

Architectural editors [dates as architectural writer]:

Gardens editors:

  • E.T. Cook [early 20th century]
  • Tony Venison
  • Tim Richardson 1995–1999
  • Kathryn Bradley-Hole 2000–2018

(earlier versions cited Fred Whitsey as a gardens editor, but he was a distinguished contributor only, being in fact the Editor of sister publication Popular Gardening)

Notable contributors

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[5])

See also

  • 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


  1. "ABC Certificates and Reports: Country Life".
  2. A. D. Harvey (January 2003). "One hundred and fifty years of The Field magazine" (PDF). History Today. 53 (1). Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  3. Howard Cox; Simon Mowatt (2003). "Technology, Organisation and Innovation: The Historical Development of the UK Magazine Industry" (PDF). Auckland University of Technology. Archived from the original (Research paper) on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  4. Country Life, 4 January 2007, issue cover Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Country Life's last staff photographer, by Alex Starkey, Country Life, 6 February 2007


  • 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.
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