Burghley House on the edge of Stamford is regarded as one of the Treasure Houses of England. The stunning C16th building is still lived in by the Cecil family and is packed full of paintings, tapestries and other treasures and is surrounded by parkland and gardens. It makes a very good day out.
There is so much to see and do at Burgley House and I came back with so many pictures, I decided to write a series of reviews about it. This one covers the background of the house. Other reviews will concentrate on the different rooms and the gardens.
William Cecil, Lord Burghley was the Principal Secretary and Lord Treasurer for Queen Elizabeth I and one of the most important men in her kingdom. He built Burghley House as an impressive family seat and a statement of his power and prestige. His portrait still hangs in the Pagoda Room.
The house still belongs to his descendants although it is now part of a Charitable Trust and the present Marquis now lives in the United States.
Building began in 1555 and took over thirty years to build. It is one of the most impressive C16th buildings to survive in England. Although the exterior retains its Elizabethan appearance, most of the interiors are the result of remodelling by later Lord Burghleys.
The house is built of local Kingscliffe limestone and is a square built round a central courtyard. There are tall Tudor chimney pots as well as ogee cupolas. The front entrance overlooks a central forecourt. Around it are the estate buildings, including the stable block and brewhouse. It was surrounded by walled parkland
The house has 35 major rooms on the ground and first floor, along with 80 lesser rooms including servants quarters. The major rooms are arranged as interconnecting rooms with a service corridor running round the inner court giving separate access to the rooms. The only views of the inner courtyard are from the windows of the antechapel.
The Old Tudor Kitchen and Great Hall on the ground floor have hardly been altered since the house was built.
John, the 5th Earl married a daughter of the Duke of Devonshire, who was a considerable heiress. He made several trips to Europe collecting tapestries, statuary and paintings for the house. He also employed Louis Laguerre and Antonio Verrio to paint the ceilings and walls and Gringling Gibbon for the decorative wood carving. He also began to landscape the grounds with formal gardens, pond and terrace. He died leaving over £8000 in unsettled debts and many unfinished rooms. The 6th Earl spent most of his life worrying about them.
It wasn’t until his great grandson, the 8th Earl married an heiress that the debts could be cleared and work could be finished in the first floor state rooms.
The 9th Earl commissioned Lancelot Brown to landscape the estate with parkland with avenues of trees, and a lake.
He was also responsible for building the orangery (now the restaurant ) and a stable block connected to the main house by the servants wing along with some of the plaster ceilings in the state rooms.
The house is still surrounded by Lancelot Brown’s parkland. The formal rose garden next to the orangery is only open for special events. To the east of the house is a Sculpture Garden and a Water Garden of Surprises.
Visitors are given a free mini guide which has a plan and brief descriptions of all the rooms. They do also have an audio guide. The guide book is £5 and gives a bit more information but is worth buying just for the pictures.
“Website with more information about visiting”:https://www.burghley.co.uk/
“More information and pictures”:https://www.sloweurope.com/community/threads/a-visit-to-burghley-house-stamford.4978/