Burton Agnes Hall

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Burton Agnes Hall must rank as one of the best English family homes in the country. It is a delightful red brick Tudor building set in beautiful grounds. The Hall was built between 1598-1610, replacing the Norman Manor House which can still be seen to one side of it.

It was designed by Sir Robert Smithson who was Master Mason to Elizabeth I and was also responsible for building Hardwick Hall for Bess of Hardwick. The house has been in the same family for over 400 years and has been little changed in that time, apart from late 17th/early 18th century changes to the upstairs drawing room, dining room and Chinese room. Each room is slightly different, but the styles blend into each other making a very satisfying whole.

This really is a very attractive house with original carving and plaster work, Georgian porcelain and furniture and an excellent collection of modern French and English Impressionist paintings. It is also a very much a well loved and lived in family home. It makes a good day out and best of all, photography is allowed inside the rooms.

Cars are parked in a field outside the equally splendid brick gatehouse with the coat of arms of James I. visitors walk down the drive lined with carefully trimmed yew trees to the front of the house. The door is carefully positioned in the side of one of the bays to maintain the symmetrical appearance. The house really does exhibit the best principles of Tudor Renaissance architecture. There are more coats of arms above the entrance doorway.

Inside is a narrow passage with reception desk and very helpful lady. Staff in the Hall are all excellent, friendly and helpful without being pushy and intrusive. Visits are by free flow and we were given a leaflet with a plan of the house and basic information. All rooms have a brief information board in them.

The visit starts in the GREAT HALL which definitely has the wow factor and is a marvellous example of a Tudor Great Hall with massive fireplace with an elaborately carved stone over mantle with family crests. A carved oak and stone screen separates the hall from the entrance passage. Round the bottom of the walls is oak panelling and there are family portraits above. In the centre of the room is a large Tudor table in the centre of the room. At the far end, carved wooden archways lead through into a passageway giving access to the rest of the rooms on the ground floor.

The DRAWING ROOM has kept its 400 year old panelling. The arches have been painted in blues, reds and golds giving the room an opulent feel. This is a comfortable room with a huge carved wood over mantle above a modern fire.

A door leads into the CHINESE ROOM which is completely different. Chinese lacquer screens were brought to Burton Agnes Hall in the C17th to replace the oak panelling. Painted on a black background these are a ‘bit in your face’ but do actually work in a small room like this, giving it an intimate feel. The fireplace has a small Chinese screen. There are pale upholstered easy chairs and a small desk as well as a colourful chess set.

At the far end of the corridor is the DINING ROOM which is Georgian rather than Tudor. It has rich red wall coverings. The dining chair are Chippendale and the carved chimney piece was relocated here from the long gallery when the ceiling collapsed in the C19th. Pictures include old masters like Gainsborough and Reynolds.

The tour continues up the oak staircase with its most unusual carved wood colonnades and Tudor chest on the half landing.

Above the dining room is the UPSTAIRS’ DRAWING ROOM another Georgian room dating from the early C18th. It is a light room with pale grey and white panelling on the walls and white and gilt carved surround to the fire. Furniture is by Hepplewhite and Sheraton. Wood is a lovely pale golden colour and against the wall are most attractive cupboards and sets of drawers inlaid with wood of different colours. A large display cabinet contains examples of Chinese ware. On the walls are impressionist paintings.

Next to it is KING JAMES BEDOOM. King James I slept here on his way from Scotland to be crowned in Westminster Abbey. It is again a Tudor room with carved panelling on the walls with portraits and a decorative plaster ceiling. The four poster bed has pale slate grey drapes and green canopy.

The JUSTICES’ ROOM is a small room with off white linen fold panelling. This dates from about 1530 and was brought here from Kilnwick Manor when it was demolished. It was in the room where the local court used to sit.

Beyond is the QUEEN’S BEDROOM, or the haunted room. Anne was the daughter of Sir Henry Griffith who built the hall. Anne was fascinated by the building of the house. It was almost finished when she was attacked by ruffians after visiting nearby Harpham. She was badly hurt and died a few days later. She told her sisters she would not be able to rest unless part of her could remain in the Hall and made them promise that her head be kept in the Hall for ever. However she was buried in the church yard and her ghost haunted the house. It was eventually agreed her grave should be reopened and her skull returned to the house. It is embedded in one of the walls.

It is an attractive room with an elaborate plaster ceiling and carved panelling. The door jams are carved with flowers and there is a carved lintel above the door. The room is furnished with Tudor furniture and there is a lovely cupboard with painted doors and drawers.

The tour ends on the top floor in the LONG GALLERY which runs across the full length of the house. This is a most attractive room with a barrel plaster ceiling decorated with roses. Walls are painted orange and have white wall pillars with gilded tops. A selection of paintings hang on the walls and there are display cabinets with china.

In one of the large bays is the LIBRARY, a light and airy room with white walls and bookcases under the large window. It has an elaborate marble and plaster fire surround made by Chippendale.

In the bay at the other end of the long gallery is a small reading room with a selection of books for visitors to sit and enjoy. Impressionist paintings hang on the walls.


Staff are excellent and very aware of the needs of disabled visitors. There is disabled parking at the side of the house beyond the courtyard with shops and cafe, with ramped entry through a side door. All of the ground floor is accessible and there is plenty of room to manoeuvre a wheelchair. There are chairs to sit on in all rooms.

Being a listed building they are unable to install a lift. The stairs have shallow steps. Although visitors are asked to keep to the left, those with mobility problems are advised to stay on the right as the hand rail is easier to use.

There is a picture book for those unable to access the upper rooms. They offer reduced entry for disabled visitors with a ‘ground floor only’ ticket. Carers are admitted free.

Paths round the grounds are good and suitable for wheelchair use. There is ramped access into the walled garden, shops and restaurant. There is an accessible toilet.

There are a lot more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/stately_homes_castles/england/north/burton_agnes/index.html

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