Elizabethan Burghley House

Of the multitude of historic homes within day-tripping distance of London, the Elizabethan palace Burghley House is, without doubt, one of the most spectacular
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About an hour-and-a-half up the A1, on a beautiful stretch of the Lincolnshire border, Burghley is one of the nation’s great Tudor treasures.

From a distance, the house is overwhelmingly impressive, with an extravagant roofline of cupolas, a forest of sculptural chimneys and elaborately finialled stonework.

Up close, it is no slouch either - two lavishly painted rooms, the Heaven room and the Hell staircase (the damned writhing in a monstrous cat’s mouth), are sumptuous 17th century masterpieces by Antonio Verrio.

Its chatelaine since 1982, Lady Victoria Leatham, was a Sotheby’s expert in oriental ceramics, who infrequently appears on Antiques Roadshow, and consequently the Japanese porcelain collection at Burghley is especially fine.

Highlights of the house include the cavernous old Tudor kitchens, whose peeling walls are studded with hundreds of Georgian and Victorian copper utensils, from jelly moulds to huge turbot kettles, and dozens of turtle skulls, a reminder of a time when turtles were kept in the estate ponds to see the incumbents through Lent.

Visiting Burghley

Burghley House is open from 11am to 4.30pm (adult admission is £10.40). Burghley is one-and-a half-miles from Stamford in Lincolnshire, just off the main A1 Great North Road, 80 miles north of London and 15 miles north of Peterborough. The closest mainline train station is Peterborough.

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