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Burghley House and Gardens

Lincolnshire

Greetings! This weekend's adventure took us to Burghley (pronounced Bur-lee) House in Stamford. This magnificent house is also off of the A1. Burghley claims to be "England's Greatest Elizabethan House" and I certainly understand why. I am just amazed at how this is called a "house," in my non-expert opinion, this fits the "castle" bill.

A little history on Burghley House. The house dates back to the 16th century and was built for Sir William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, who was the Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I. Burghley House has been in the Cecil family for over 16 generations. Michael Exeter is the current Cecil family member associated with the property. He is also known as the 8th Marquess of Exeter, 17th Earl of Exeter and 18th Baron Burghley. Fun fact, Michael was born in Canada and educated in England. During his schooling in England, he lived at Burghley with his grandparents (the Fifth Marquess and Marchioness). He now lives in Oregon. His cousin lives at Burghley and is the House Director for the Burghley House Preservation Trust, which oversees the house and gardens and overall estate. The main part of the house has 35 major rooms on the ground and first floors. There are more than 80 lesser rooms and numerous halls, corridors, bathrooms, and service areas throughout. We were able to go into 16 of the rooms. Much to my dismay yet again, Capability Brown left his mark on several parts of the property and not just the gardens.

Burghley House: https://www.burghley.co.uk

Entrance to Burghley House
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Our entrance to the tour
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Our tour started in the Old Kitchen. The kitchen was massive, which is of no surprise. I took a few pictures of different "appliances" in the kitchen.

Roaster
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Oven
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After the kitchen, the tour went to the Hog's Hall. Not quite sure why it is called that. There were several fire buckets here and a porter chair. I quite enjoyed the "bell system" which was the intercom system back in the day (this should look somewhat familiar to Downton Abbey fans!). Until 1950, the only telephone in the entire house was located in the Hog's Hall and Burghley was connected to mains electricity in 1956. I would call that an upgrade.
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From Hog's Hall we walked up the Roman Stairs which were beautiful and decorated with Tudor emblems.
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From the staircase, we reached the Ante Chapel and then the Chapel. The Chapel was beautiful.
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The guide in the room mentioned that this is the family bible dating back to the 16th century.
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From the chapel we walked through the Billard Room, where as one could imagine was a billiards table. The table was made of wood from the HMS Royal George which sank at Spithead in 1782. We then went into the Bow Room.

From the Bow Room
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After the Bow Room, it was into the Brown Drawing Room. The bed in the room was used by a young Queen Victoria.
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After the Brown Drawing Room, it was into the Black and Yellow Room. Apparently this room has had King George VI, HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the Duke and Duchess of York stay here when they visited Burghley. The guide in the Black and Yellow Room mentioned that a sign of wealth was buying tapestries or having tapestries made. There were dozens of tapestries on the walls of the house, indicative of the wealth of the family.
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The Marquetry Room was immediately following the Black and Yellow Room. I really liked this room. I found it interesting with its large doorway and corner chimney. There was also a small Jewel Closet hidden away in the side of the room and a beautiful mural painted on the ceiling of the closet.
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Corner chimney
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Jewel Closet
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Mural on ceiling of Jewel Closet
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From the Marquetry Room, the tour led into Queen Elizabeth's Bedroom. Unfortunately, Queen Elizabeth was prevented from staying at Burghley when she visited in 1566 due to a contagious illness within the household, so she never actually stayed in this room, despite it bearing her name.
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We next went into the Pagoda Room, which reminded me of an office. This room also had two little closets on the sides; one had a tub and the other looked to be a dressing room.
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Next, was the Blue Silk Bedroom, followed by the ever creatively named, Blue Silk Dressing Room. I, again, really enjoyed the corner chimney in the room as well as the paintings.
Blue Silk Bedroom
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Blue Silk Dressing Room
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The tour continued through to the First, Second, Third, and Fourth George Rooms.
Fireplace in the First George Room
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This was the Second George Room. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed in this room during their visit to Burghley in 1844. I enjoyed the little closet with the washroom in the corner. There were also a pair of gloves Queen Victoria had worn during her visit in a case in the room.
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Third George Room
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Queen Victoria used the Fourth George Room as her Withdrawing Room....because doesn't everyone need a room to withdraw into? I found the table really unique as well as a few pieces of furniture in the corners of the room.
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After the Fourth George Room, was probably the most spectacular room in the house, in my opinion. We came to the Heaven Room, aptly named for the murals painted on the walls and ceilings of the room. The murals, which were painted by Verrio, depict Vulcan discovering his wife Venus in a compromising position. Other gods and goddesses are summoned or presumed to be curious as to what is happening. Verrio had painted himself in the corner of the room as one of the onlookers. The room was used as one of the first rooms for guests as they entered the home because it would evoke conversation, according to a wonderful guide in the room. The view from this room was also spectacular.
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View from Heaven Room
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If there is a Heaven, there must also be a Hell, right? Indeed there was, but it was called Hell Staircase in Burghley and it did not disappoint. Verrio also painted this scene, depicting the mouth of Hell as the gaping mouth of an enormous....cat. A cat of all things.
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Cabinet in Hell Staircase
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Cat's mouth
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The final room in the house was the Great Hall, which was rather impressive. This was reportedly used as a large dining room.
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And last but not least, the gardens.
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In comparing Grimsthorpe Castle and Burghley House, I much preferred the gardens at Grimsthorpe and the wonderful parkland with trails. I enjoyed both the castle and the house as they were very different in appearance and decor.

On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 09:13 Archived in England Tagged gardens england park house hidden burghley Comments (1)

Grimsthorpe Castle

Lincolnshire

Greetings! We took a trip a little north on the A1, which by the way, history-lesson-time, predominantly parallels the Great North Road which was the main highway between London and Edinburgh, to visit Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire. I had come across Grimsthorpe in a brochure I had picked up. The brochure was really inviting so I decided to do a little more research into tickets as there seemed to be some good deals available. We opted for the 2019 Season Tickets because the ticket not only included admission to Grimsthorpe but also, a few special events, and one admission to Burghley House and Easton Walled Gardens. Burghley House is definitely on my list of places to visit.

A little history on Grimsthorpe Castle. It consists of the castle, gardens, and park. Grimsthorpe has been a home for the Willoughby de Eresby family since 1516. The home was granted by Henry VIII to William, Baron Willoughby de Eresby when he married Maria de Salinas, lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon in 1516 (pop quiz: remember in a previous post...Katherine of Aragon was the first wife of Henry VIII who was banished for not producing a male heir and died at Kimbolton Castle following the last 22 months of her life there...this will come up again below). Construction of the castle is said to have begun in the 13th century and the oldest part is King John's Tower, which was built in the 13th century. In 1715, upon elevation to the Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven, Robert Bertie, 16th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, employed Sir John Vanbrugh to design a baroque front to the home to celebrate his new title (because doesn't everyone do that?!). Sir John Vanbrugh also designed Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, also must sees. The Willoughby de Eres family still fulfills the hereditary office of Lord Great Chamberlain, the Monarch's representative at the Palace of Westminster, one of three families in England who fulfill this role. Some of oak trees in the park at Grimsthorpe Castle were likely to have been recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 (the big land survey) and were possibly still alive in the 20th century. Capability Brown, left his mark at Grimsthorpe as well, much to my dismay yet again, having designed the current park on the property. Grimsthorpe Castle also played a role both in World War I and World War II. The park was used as an emergency landing ground for the Royal Air Force in World War I and part of the central part of the park was used as a bombing range during World War II.

I've included links below to the Grimsthorpe website and Hidden England, which Grimsthorpe (and Rockingham Castle which we had visited previously around Christmastime) is a part of. I had not heard of Hidden England before, but I am sure we will be checking out some of the properties on there as well.

Grimsthorpe website: https://www.grimsthorpe.co.uk
Hidden England: https://www.hiddenengland.org

We really enjoyed Grimsthorpe Castle. We were able to do a 5.6 mile hike around the park and lake and saw some sheep and very curious deer. I included some pictures below from the trail. We arrived right when the property opened and had a wonderful walk with very typical English weather. Afterwards, we took a self-guided tour of the house. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos inside of the property. One of the most interesting things to me was in The South Corridor. The gallery there is lined with a series of thrones that various Kings and Queens used, to include: George IV, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and Edward VII, in the old House of Commons. The Corridor also contained the rosewood desk in velvet that Queen Victoria signed her Coronation Oath on in 1838. George IV's throne was MASSIVE; he was apparently a large man with a 54 inch waist, according to the guide (apparently the nursery rhyme "Georgie Porgie" was an ode to George IV's size) . His coronation in 1821 apparently included a men's only 55 course meal; women/wives were banished to balconies to watch, according to the guide. The Gothic Bedroom in the house contained a canopy of state which supposedly hung over the throne of George IV. It was quite spectacular! The Chapel in the castle was also very beautiful. We were curious how the Willoughby family would have acquired these items as they do not receive money for their role mentioned above. The guide mentioned that the "payment," if you will, was the ability to ask for the thrones, desks, etc. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. She also mentioned that the house was technically part of a trust which avoids the dreaded inheritance tax. The inheritance tax could bankrupt families combined with the upkeep of the homes which is why a lot of families turn to trusts for their properties. The guide also enlightened us with a few interesting stories about Henry VIII during our visit. The first story was that Henry VIII prohibited visitors from seeing banished Katherine and Maria, being such a good friend (mentioned above) wouldn't listen, so she hopped on her horse and rode all the way from Grimsthorpe Castle to Kimbolton Castle where the guide told us that Katherine died in Maria's arms. What are friends for! Also, when Henry VIII visited Grimsthorpe Castle he took one look and realized he couldn't deal with the stairs due to a leg injury, so he stayed in a tent out back (probably "glamping") we were told. I am so glad we ran into this particular guide, she was wonderful and we had quite the conversation with her. After we finished in the house, we toured the various gardens. We really enjoyed Grimsthorpe and will hopefully return, if not just to take a walk through the park and gardens.

Grimsthorpe Castle:
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The back of the castle:
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Gardens:
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Trail:
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On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 08:20 Archived in England Tagged gardens home england walking castle trail hidden grimsthorpe Comments (4)

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