With some friends over from Italy who had already seen our lovely Cathedral it was a no-brainer to take them out to the countryside and visit Burghley House near Stamford!

We arrived ready for entry at 11am on Saturday by car, we could have travelled by train from Peterborough to Stamford but the issue then is getting out to the houses’ entrance which is a fair way from the station… so car it was. I’d purchased entry online first as it was slightly cheaper than on the door (so I’d recommend this to you too) and you get a year’s membership for your money, which means at least I will be able to revisit for free before it runs out.

We hung around the courtyard as we waiting for the House to open looking at the quaint cottages where people live, watched the birds in and out of the bushes and hunted for conkers which had fallen on the ground under the tree. After checking in and registering with the entrance staff we were on our way. I missed the large sign in the courtyard and went waltzing passed the restaurant and up into the Great Hall much to the surprise our the room guide who then pointed us in the right direction..you know when you’re looking for something, it’s staring you straight in the face and you just can’t see it. Yes that was me. So back down the corridor and stairs, turn left and into the entrance we went.

Dating back to 1855 everything is grand and our first room The Kitchen was enormous and dark. A beautiful room with lots of highly polised copper kitchen pots, pans and terrines. You can imagine what this room looks like on an evening under candlelight (amazing), we read about the turtle skulls and soup as well as asking about the boot warmer on the wall. Travelling around the house the rooms are extensive, large, highly decorated and ornate. Just what you expect to see from the times gone passed which makes you also stand in awe of how, back then, they managed to create, carve, paint what they did on the scale that they did. One Hall that you enter is entirely covered in paintwork, from ceiling to the floor, in the window bays and more with characters, artefacts and more… it’s surreal how every inch is done even the fake look of wooden wall panels and statues next to a fireplace which are not there, they are just painted.

You get to see beds slept in by Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) and by Queen Elizabeth II. A wine cooler in solid silver which you could bathe in, it’s that large. This is in the room with the mural of Heaven on its wall and ceiling a huge room for entertaining. Then you enter a large staircase which is dark and assuming with a cat’s mouth depicted as the mouth to Hell. It’s all terribly detailed and you can’t imagine how anyone managed to paint it this high up and on top of a stair case… you’ll go into rooms, bedrooms, library rooms and then finally end up in the Great Hall where balls and dances will have taken place in. It’s original roof and ceiling is incredibly old but solid and intact. The clock in here is very interesting to look at too as you find time for minutes, seconds, sundial time and actual time along with seasons. Most of the rooms have a guide to hand where you can ask questions.  In the drawing room my Italian guest was confused by the seats and bed asking why it would be needed for a ‘drawing’ room thinking that it was taken from the very ‘to draw’. We take things for granted and I couldn’t remember why our rooms were called that, so asked the guide. Women would withdraw to a quiet/relaxed room after their dinners/events and it was therefore called a ‘Drawing Room’. There you go – a new piece of information. Thank you.

The rooms take around 30 minutes to walk around at a reasonable pace and not staying too long in each. We had a coffee break in the Orangery, which is an adoreable room with some great quality foods and cakes to eat. I wanted to take them around the lovely gardens with the large bushes and grounds to get a good look at the back of the house but these gardens are closed, so we made our way to the Gardens of Surprise. (which again I’d never been in)

We were lucky it wasn’t too cold and definitely not raining at this point as we sauntered from sculpture to sculpture in the gardens… flowers, borders, ponds, timers, gates of water, pathways and lots of small and large interesting things to look at. [The amazing contents of the Garden of Surprises are inspired by this Elizabethan garden and are hidden from the outside – waiting to reveal their surprises to those who enter. – taken from Burghley’s website] Fountains and water at every turn and a great view of all the gardens if you can find the entrance to the small walk on the hill above. The Longtitue Sundial is an amazing piece of work which you will find right at the centre of the gardens. We managed to work out the time and do the adjustment necessary to get the right time even though very little sun was out (no good on a cloudy day, you’d definitely be late!) The Moss House area is good too as everything is kept wet – a healthy option for the mosses living there on the walls and rocks. We came across a lovely area that depicted earth, rain, wind and fire with pushable knobs for the kids to play and see what happens. (they are the temple like sculptures) We played a game a bit like connect4 but with 3 pieces and then decided to exit. What a surprise that is as you think you can’t actually get out, but be patient as you dare to step forward, your waterfall gate will stop to allow you to pass! LOL

Out the gardens and into the Sculpture Gardens (open 11am-5pm every day) for another long walk around the grounds and down to the lakeside where the boathouse is. [In 2019 the gardens at Burghley have become the grounds for a debate between Form and Function. A conversation between the needs of purpose and the liberation of pure geometry, spoken Through the language of sculpture. Some of this year’s sculptors have challenged the notion of usefulness by distorting scale beyond expectation.-taken from Burghley’s website] Many modern sculptures are scattered around with a map for you to follow. One for Star Wars fans is Kylo Ren’s fighting flying machine as you enter and turn to the right. We spotted squirrels (real) and then unreal…. rabbits, a rhino, an aeroplane, a horse, enormous snowdrops, and lots of real trees, plants and flowers. It’s a walk and a half as you go round with no set course to follow. Just meander and see what you find around the next corner. (the house gardens were not open)

After a long walk we had to visit the shops to see what wonders were in there too. The garden shop is mostly garden items and the house shop (back in the courtyard) has a large selection of home items, clothing, jewellery, soaps, sweets, chocolates and of course, as it’s coming up, Christmas baubles. We came away with a £5 brochure each.

If you’ve never been, Burghley House really is worth a visit. It’s a great long morning or whole day to spend there and the Orangery is open when the house and gardens arent.  Find more at https://www.burghley.co.uk/

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