Thursday, 4 August 2016

Visit to Burghley House (part 1)

 I visited Burghley House (built for William Cecil in the 1600s) last week; I last visited over twenty years ago.  I used to live in Stamford, opposite one of the entrances to Burghley Park, so it was all familiar.  I was interested to see what had changed.  There had been some building to create a new entrance and exhibition space, but, as you would expect, the house remained as I remembered. The last time I visited, it was by guided tour only and while you do get lots of nuggets of information from the guides, you are limited as to how long you can stay in each room.  This time, no guided tours but audio ones if required and a guide was in each room - some of them added to our discussions (particularly concerning women artists and sitting for a portrait).  We could spend as long as we wanted to in each room, which was a bonus.  Photos without flash were allowed in the house, but in the event, I didn't take many.
 I liked the orchid and fern display in the massive copper pot in the kitchen.
 The array of servants' bells also intrigued me - there was another wall like this to my left.
The Heaven Room is described as the painter Verrio's masterpiece and is indeed very impressive. Burghley featured as Rosings Park, home of the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Dame Judi Dench) in the 2005 film of  Pride and Prejudice.  There is an interesting blog post here
 I was more taken with the fabulous floral carpet!
Outside the orangery (well, we were obliged to stop and have tea), there is a small rose garden with a lovely Magnolia Grandiflora.  However, Burghley does lack the typical beautiful gardens which I, for one, expect to see at an English Country House and I remember being disappointed by that when I was much younger on a previous visit.
There is a relatively recent addition to the gardens with 'The Garden of Surprises' which comprises different gardens around the theme of water and plenty of opportunities to get wet!
I liked the calm of the tree water fountain.
The rill edged with lavender was also lovely (but paddling was not allowed, sadly).
There was some pretty planting in some of the gardens.
This one squirted mist at you as you went in.  There were lots of wet children running about and laughing, having a marvellous time, but it was all a bit manic and we were quite relieved to head out to the Sculpture Garden (more about that in my next post and I am pleased to say that the Sculpture Garden did make up for the lack of formal garden.)
A quiet view into the Garden of Surprises.
We wandered across the park (noticing the ha-ha on the way, designed as an elegant solution to stop meandering livestock from getting onto one's front lawn, without destroying the view of one's rolling acres).
We went to Lion Bridge which gave a pleasing view of the house across Capability Brown's landscape (although I'm sure those trees didn't used to be there, obscuring part of the house).
The view the other way - a quintessential English landscape, designed and implemented by Mr Brown and his huge team of workers.
One of the four lions continuing to guard the bridge.  Burghley is an amazing house with some stunning artworks and furniture and a perfect way to spend a day.


  1. It does look amazing.
    How the other half lived...
    I too am surprised at the lack of formal gardens, but looking forward to the sculpture garden.
    Thank you for taking us along.

    1. Thanks, EC. While wandering round, we wondered how people actually lived in the house - the main rooms are just so imposing. I expect much was for show and as a demonstration of power and they actually lived in the smaller rooms. Even the small rooms are big by today's standards.
      Best wishes

  2. So nice to be guided by you, much more interesting I think :-)! The house looks intriguing .... Love from Mirjam.

    1. Thanks, Mirjam. The house has so much to look at - it is a little overwhelming. There are some amazing paintings and sculptures.
      Best wishes