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Friday, 27 March 2015

Spring at Belton House

My visit to Belton House could not have been on a better day, the sun was shining and a feeling of Spring was in the air.

Built in the 1680's for Sir John Brownlow, Belton House is a Grade 1 listed building which sits in a 1300 acres deer park. It is thought to be a good representative of an English country home. It was built in the Carolean time (also known as the Restoration style ) named so, as it was built at the time Charles II was returned from exile.

The Brownlow family who were a family of lawyers, have owned land in the village of Belton since the late 1500's but it wasn't until 1619 that Sir John Brownlow I, was able to buy the original house that stood in the grounds of the park. The original house stood where the beautiful gardens are now, close to where the old church stands.

John married a very wealthy heiress but unfortunately they had no children . He left the Belton estate to his favourite Great nephew of the same name in 1679 who was just 19 years of age at the time.
It was this John and his wife Alice who would build the beautiful house you see today. Inheriting not just the estate but also a very large income, John Brownlow I, had allowed them to build their dream house.

 The building of the new house started in 1685 from local Ancaster stone and was built in the popular Elizabethan 'H' style. This grand house was spared no expense and it is there to see as you walk around the property.

 As each generation inherited this beautiful house, changes to the interior were made to reflect their position in society. Those who inherited the estate were often not the children of the previous owners. Women could not inherit so often the estate would fall into the hands of a brother of nephew, but the estate did remain in the family's hands until 1984, when the house and gardens were given to the National Trust. The Trust then purchased the park land.

                                The Mirror pool with it's perfect reflections.

Like so many large estates, after the two World Wars, they struggled to keep going. In 1915, Belton Estate became the base for thousands of soldiers who were part of the Machine Gun Corps. As it is the 100th anniversary, Belton House are 'Re-discovering Belton's forgotten gunners' Here is a link to more information about this.
Many people will know this house from watching Jane Austins 'Pride and Prejudice' which was filmed here in 1995. I heard a few references to it as I walked around the garden. One lady stopped to tell me where they walked so I took a couple of photos :)

As I walked around this house, one of the things that hit me most was how many paintings of women and young children there were. Yes, other houses have them too but these were different. Less formal somehow. A little more homely I guess. There were more formal paintings too but a softness to many. The painting below made me smile and any parent will know this feeling all too well. You have just got a child to sleep and someone walks in the room. Shush!

Walking from room to room you notice how different each room is. The fine detail in this house is worth noting. There was far too much to take in on one visit but that was fine for me as I like to have something left to explore for another visit.

As I walked into the first room directly from the reception room, it was the view from the windows that caught my eye. It is beautiful. You can imagine the family stood at this window in their grand clothes, admiring this garden as it changes through the seasons.


This is the Saloon Room at Belton House which was the formal reception room with it's panelled walls.

      Everywhere you look there is something golden to show off their wealth.

The first thing I noticed when walking into the next room was the soft floor. It has a lovely cushioned floor and it was very unexpected. When you see the painted wooden floor, you expect it to be hard under your feet. A pleasant surprise in such an old building and a great luxury.

The painted cushioned floor.

 The 'Chapel Rerdos' from the balcony. Here they had left hand a mirror so it was easier to see the ceiling. A nice touch.

Within the Chapel viewing area is the wooden plaque which I thought was worth taking note of. It reads as so...
'' 1961-1964''
''The Major structural restoration of Belton House was conserved by Peregrine and Dorothy Brownlow in love and partnership. The task itself was overseen with rare patience and wisdom by Francis Hohnson, the architect, William Aneley, the builder and Bernard Shipman, the Belton agent and was carried out with infinite care and devotion by Harry Tyerman, Master Craftsman and his loyal tireless staff. He was helped throughout by the preparatory work of Arthur Tear. The Belton Clerk of Works. Thus this mansion, serene and gracious lives on for posterity. Secure in the affections and hearts of a devoted family. December 1963. And may the blessing of Almighty God, rest upon ALL who have laboured or lived herein.''
I think this is a lovely touch to remember all those who worked so hard in the 1960's to restore this beautiful building. There for future generations to read and be grateful for.

 Next to the Chapel is the Chapel Drawing room.

On the walls of this room are two tapestries by John Vanderbank. One is of leisure.

              And one is about  the opposite. People being made to work.

 I was very happy to see this Louis XIV Boulle bureau as I had seen a very similar design recently when the drawing room was being re-arranged at Charlecote Park.

Here are the two cabinets that sit inside the drawing room at Charlecote. The designs on the sides are vice-versa from each other. I have also seen this before on a cabinet at Felbrigg Hall. I really like it. The detail is beautiful.

The Great Staircase in Belton House was very grand and went all around the walls. The craftsmanship and work that goes into making these beautiful steps is often not appreciated but I love this area in a house like this. They are often what makes a house special and gives you that 'WOW' feeling as you walk around. The staircase was nice at Belton but it was the dressing of the whole room which made you stand back and admire it. 

The golden chandelier.

         I loved how it looked from beneath.

The staircase twisting as it follows the line of the walls which are beautifully dressed with some very lovely paintings. Again, many females.

                                                        The ceiling

 Two of the paintings I really liked are so feminine but then there are many touches to this house which make me feel the ladies of this family had much influence in it's d├ęcor. The first painting is of the Countess Adelaide Brownlow which was painted by Lord Leighton in 1879. The painting on the right, is of Lady Dorothy Brownlow and was painted in the second half of the 1600's Many of the ladies that adorn Belton's walls were very beautiful. You don't always see this in old historical houses. There are some strange paintings in some houses.

You can click on the images to enlarge them and see more detail.

This is the 'Blue Room' which confuses me as it looks a little more green to me.

While in this room I also heard chatter of 'Sense and Sensibility' as this room was used during filming as Darcy's bedroom. I had to admit that I had not seen this adaptation of the book.

The craftsmanship in the canopy over this bed is something to be admired. Things are just not made like they used to be. So many lost trades.

             The cabinet dating around 1715

I love the way there are so many reflections to see at Belton, not just in the house but also in the Gardens.

The Yellow Bedroom.

The Windsor room named after Edward VIII but is a room often used by Prince Charles whilst he was a cadet based at Cranwell.

Walking into the Boudoir at Belton House,the first thing you see is the beautiful ceiling. I had not seen one like this before. It was very impressive. The ideal place to photograph it would have been the middle of the floor but that was not possible. The plasterwork was designed by James Wyatt in the 1770's

It gives the appearance as though there were curtains in the ceiling.

The Boudoir room itself.

 Next we have the beautiful Chinese Room with it's hand painted walls which was created around 1840, although the wall paper itself is much older.

Again lovely detail.

 The 18th Century hand painted wallpaper. I was told that the birds were 'stick on birds' and that some were even upside down. I stood there for a while looking but I could not find any. That is something to get the children to check I think!

 The Queen's bedroom which was named after Queen Adelaide who was the widow of William IV. This room was redecorated in 1841 for her visit.

I didn't say this would be a short blog did I? At least it is mostly pictures. :) There was so much to see at Belton and I want to share it so apologies for the length of this blog.......Although I realised when I got home, that I had missed some of the main rooms. I'm not quite sure how that happened and was a little upset that I missed them but I did see plenty while I was there. I didn't get to go downstairs either but no photos are permitted below stairs anyway. Next time I will see these missed rooms so look out for Belton House 2!
Next we have what is the entrance room to the library. A small but very grand golden room. The fireplace is thought to be the original one to this room but the rest of the room was created in the 1870's

 The Library. I love books and really wish I had seen the study as there were lots of beautiful books in there too.

              The detailed ceiling in the library.

 The Dining room also known as the Hondecoeter Room which I belief was used as the sitting room in 'Sense and Sensibility'

The picture below which hangs in this room is of John Cust who was the 1st Earl Brownlow and was born in 1779. He stands next to his brother Henry who was born a year later. They almost look like twins.

After seeing what I thought was all the house I headed over to the Restaurant to see what they had on offer. I had  the 'One pot venison' and I have to say it was lovely. I would highly recommend it if you are visiting Belton House.

After lunch I had a walk through the lovely gardens. It really was an ideal day. Not only did we have blue skies but it felt lovely and warm as there was no breeze.

                                               The Dutch Garden.

From the main garden I walked down to the Mirror Lake which was very pretty with daffodils growing here and there. There were some great reflections in this water. 

The walk through the wood was lovely with it's carpet of yellow and blue.

 The woodland path twisted until it reached the second lake where there were lots of wildlife and more great reflections.

The walk up to the Bellmount Tower which was finished in 1751 as a viewing tower. Being on 'higher ground' the view of the estate must be lovely from there.

I was determined to see the deer before leaving and as if I had ordered them, out came the deer to see me.

   Belton house is a lovely place to visit. I enjoyed the house, gardens and grounds very much and will be back in the Summer to see how it all looks then.

 A big thanks to the house volunteers who were very friendly and happy to answer any questions.
For more on Belton House, here is the link.

                                                        Copyright Jana Eastwood

1 comment:

  1. very detailed and interesting, thank you so much