When PG Wodehouse described his foppish hero Bertie Wooster waking at his aunt’s country house at Brinkley Court, his ear “detected a marked twittering of birds in the ivy outside the window”.

The fictitious owners of Brinkley Court and dozens of country houses around Britain will be delighted to learn that the ivy that clings to their walls is not merely decorous but good for regulating temperature and humidity.

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