Burghley Park, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 3JY, United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has a multitude of sprawling stately homes, most of which are open to the public in some fashion—tours, weddings and events, or public space for family gatherings. The mammoth task of maintaining these century old castles and grounds does not come easy . . . or cheap!
One of my favourite grand homes to visit is Burghley House, located in Stamford just northeast of London. Burghley House, occupied by the current owners, is open to the public in a variety of ways. Tours of the grand interiors are offered. The many acres of grounds around the castle serve as a public park for picnics, leisure, and garden enthusiasts. Events are scheduled frequently. From food and art fairs to equestrian events, Burghley House provides a sense of community in stately fashion for locals and visitors.
Burghley House is a grand 16th-century country house in Lincolnshire. After Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1558, optimism for a more peaceful and stable England rose. Many of the nobles constructed substantial houses; one of which was Sir William Cecil, later 1st Baron Burghley, who held the highest position in the kingdom at that time as Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I. The building period of Burghley began in 1555 and continued for the following 32 years.
Burghley House turned out to be one of the largest and grandest houses in Britain, which perfectly epitomizes the wealth of the prosperous Elizabethan period. The main sector contains 35 major rooms on the ground and first floors. There are more than 80 lesser rooms and numerous corridors, bathrooms and service areas. The lead roof covers three quarter of an acre. Graceful and extraordinarily glamorous, Burghley’s many spires, cupolas and tall chimneys are noticeable from every direction.
Burghley House contains lavish staterooms filled with fine furniture, tapestries and art; but the painted walls and ceilings of many of the rooms provide a most captivating feature—mostly painted by Antonio Verrio and Louis Laguerre. One of the more notable rooms is the Heaven Room, with painted barely-clad angelic figures. From almost every room there are unobstructed views of the magnificent gardens, which include an arboretum and sculpture park.
Burghley House has remained the home of the Cecil family for over four hundred years. Today, management of the estate falls on the Burghley Trust, which was established by the family. Many public events are scheduled. The renowned Burghley Horse Trials are held each autumn on the lawn. The Orangery Restaurant—located within the castle walls overlooking a lily pad filled pond—makes a lovely destination for lunch. Last week’s outdoor film festival included four days of family and adult movies on the lawn, such as Aladdin, Skyfall, The King’s Speech and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. You may recognize the building and grounds from The DaVinci Code, Pride and Prejudice or Elizabeth: The Golden Age, a few of the movies filmed at Burghley House.
If you are in the Stamford area over the next few months, why not take a tour of the castle and participate in one of these many festivals:
Burghley Fine Food Market
Sunday 25th August – Monday 26th August
A celebration of local produce, stallholders will fill the courtyard at Burghley and sell local cheese, meat, bread, puddings and much more. This event is FREE of charge.
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials
Thursday 5th September – Sunday 8th September
The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is the premier equestrian and social event in the international sporting calendar and a focus for the best horses and riders in the world. The parkland of Burghley provides a perfect setting for the 3-day competition event, and a stunning location for the popular shopping village of more than 600 exhibitors
Fresh Take at Burghley
Monday 9th September – Sunday 3rd November
A new contemporary art exhibition, ‘Fresh Take’ will feature six local artists working in a variety of media focusing on Burghley’s interior and its history, creating a fresh cultural dialogue between past and present.
Burghley Flower Festival
Saturday 5th October – Sunday 13th October
During October the state rooms are transformed with beautiful floral displays created by local flower societies, offering a new perspective on England’s greatest Elizabethan House. Each room will inspire the floral arrangement with societies taking their inspiration from a piece of classic literature in addition to the painted ceilings, seventeenth century art or the original purpose of a room.
Living Heritage Craft & Food Fair
Saturday 12th October – Sunday 13th October
The ever popular Autumn Craft and Food Fair from Living Heritage events returns to Burghley for a weekend of craft and food shopping along with working demonstrations of traditional English crafts. From ceramics and jewelry to glass blowing and bee keeping, there is something for everyone as well as children’s entertainments and the ever-popular food hall.
Monday 28th October – Sunday 3rd November
Spooky family fun includes touring the cellars, outbuildings and cloisters of Burghley by flickering torchlight. Limited places available; tickets are now on sale. Prepare to be scared!
The Burghley Pumpkin Trail
Monday 28th October – Sunday 3rd November
During October the Burghley Pumpkin Trail is held around the Sculpture Garden. Tread through the crispy autumn leaves and find the hidden pumpkins to receive a treat. Afterwards, warm up in the Garden Café.