With over 35 main rooms and many other halls, corridors and bathrooms, Burghley is one of the biggest houses from the time of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) and is filled with furnishings and furniture from that period. It was built for William Cecil, and the Exeter-Cecil family still live there today.
William Cecil, Lord Burghley, created Burghley House between 1555 and 1587. He was born in Bourne, Lincolnshire and became very powerful as he worked as one of Elizabeth’s chief advisors for 40 years - longer than any other Tudor minister. The house took 32 years to be completed.
After a tumultuous history (the house was bombed by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War), Burghley House is now a peaceful place where you can look back into the 16th century. In fact, the rooms inside include many household items from the time such as paintings and porcelain collections which means that you can easily imagine the day-to-day lives of the aristocracy. A visit to the Old Kitchen is priceless because it remains original to Cecil’s design, allowing you to wander around, just like he did. Many of the rooms were remodelled in the baroque style and the double-act of the so-called “Hell Staircase” and “Heaven Room” were intricately painted by Thomas Stothard and Antonio Verro.
Don’t miss the Serpentine Lake designed by Lancelot Brown in the parklands, which are listed Grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Inside, you can see the collection of 17th-century Italian paintings and the earliest collection of Kakiemon Japanese ceramics ever recorded in western inventories, showing that the house’s history extends well beyond British borders.
For families, the grounds offer the Deer Park and the Garden of Surprises which are ideal for children who can spend an afternoon running around between the moss house, the mirror maze, and the water basins. For a more relaxed day, make a stop at the Sculpture Garden with a choice of exhibitions set amongst green lawns and lots of trees.