Burghley House & Gardens - 20/8/2015 - Tonbridge U3A-Travel

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Burghley House & Gardens - 20/8/2015

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We started our day boarding the coach at Willow Lea at 8.15 am. After a comfort break on the way we arrived at Burghley House in Stamford which dates back to the 16th Century and is the largest Elizabethan house in Britain. We began our tour of the house with a presentation which was in the form of ancestors telling us the history of the house. This was cleverly done by projecting the actors on the wall who spoke to each other. The house was very interesting from the start in the huge kitchen right through to the Hell staircase and Great Hall. As well as a leaflet giving a resume of each room there was a guide in each room who answered any questions and often gave us extra interesting snippets of information. The furniture was beautiful especially the elaborate beds and marquetry pieces. The carpets throughout was a light colour to brighten the rooms and any stains are dealt with at the end of the day. It looked new! I particularly liked the beautiful chapel which is not only used regularly by the family but employees can be married there and recently the grandchild of one was christened there.
Much of the restoration was due to the huge efforts of Lady Victoria Leatham who raised the money by loaning paintings abroad etc. The House is now run as a charity, the Burghley House Preservation Trust, the House Director is Lady Victoria's daughter, Miranda Rock who lives at Burghley House with her husband and four children.
After a tasty lunch we explored the gardens. The grounds are huge and were originally laid out by Capability Brown. You can see where the famous annual Burghley Horse Trials are held. There is the Garden of Surprises with many water features which is very popular with children but our favourite was the Sculpture Garden. As we wandered around it we came across sculptures in varying sizes, shapes and materials. We really liked the massive iron face which, from a distance, looked as if it was peering out from the trees, but close up actually stood alone. Very clever. After a yummy ice cream we headed home at 5 pm. 
We agreed that the house and gardens were one of the best and interesting we had ever visited. As usual the day was very well organised by the Travel Team and thoroughly enjoyable.

Penny Hawney
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