A visit to the gardens at Burghley House

I have driven past Burghley House fairly often.  I usually look at the signs and think 'I ought to visit there one day' and then I keep on driving.  The other day I saw that the private south gardens at Burghley were going to be opening for NGS.  Well that sorted it, I knew the time had come when I should stop and investigate the gardens for myself.  Burghley is about an hour from where I live and it is a nice drive.  The countryside between Leicester and Stamford is some of England's best undulating scenes in my opinion.
We only visited the gardens this time, but we bought an annual ticket and decided we would 'do the house' on another occasion.  It is a very grand house, demonstrating its fine Elizabethan heritage.  The house was built for William Cecil, who was the first Lord Burghley and one of Elizabeth I's most trusted advisers. William's descendants still live in the house and it is now managed through a Preservation Trust.
The gardens were mainly designed by Capability Brown and as you walk you can see this influcence in the angles and views and slopes.
There are some superb trees, we spent a lot of time admiring and at times trying to identify trees as not all were immediately ones we recognised.
As ever I am not going to attempt to show everything, but I want to give you a flavour of what we saw.
This vegetable patch is a bit off the beaten track, but we loved this fence.  So simple yet beautifully made and very effective.
We stood and admired the rows of parrot tulips that we assumed were destined to be cut for the house.
There is a sculpture garden here at Burghley and there are sculptures in the private south gardens.  These slowly turning swans sparkled in the sun.
This moose stands by the lake and was very noble.  His insides are stuffed with straw, we thought this would make it a great overwintering place for insects.  What a novel way of doing this.
We loved this wisteria frame.  In a few weeks this will be laden with scent.
There are flows of daffodils and then patches of anemones.
We were stopped in our tracks by this group of fritillaria meleagris.  They were just stunning.
As you walk around from the lake you arrive at this formal rose garden. This is part of the private south gardens so you need to visit when these are open to see them.
The pink of the acers, which we thought was Brilliantissimum, was perfect against the blue sky and the colour of the house.
The hedges were carefully clipped.
and there were topiary figures lining the sides of the central path. There were lions, cats, foxes, ducks and more.
The formal structure of the garden felt perfectly in tune with the heritage of the house.
It was the most perfect early spring day.  The sun shone in a cloudless blue sky. You will see in the tree by the house there is mistletoe.  There were many trees with mistletoe in the grounds.
We moved on into the scuplture gardens.  This is a cow in cowslips, well ok, they're primroses but that did not sound as romantic.
We loved this wing,
and also this colourful piece caught our eye.
Whilst possibly a little dour, this mask makes a great statement piece.
though my favourite was probably these windchimes.  I love windchimes, I know lots of people hate them but I care not, this was beautiful and it moved so delicately in the slight breeze.
Though these ribs of willow also caught my eye.  I could imagine them working in all sorts of landscapes.
and these steel galanthus were also rather special.
I must also mention the ice-house.  I like a good ice-house and this one is very good.  As you walk into it a light shows you how the deep the ice-store is.  It is a great example of how life used to be before our technological wonders.  We pondered on the work of the servants, filling it with ice and then taking it up to the house for the pleasure of the owners.  It makes opening the freezer and taking out an ice-cube have a whole new meaning.

We had such a lovely day.  The weather was perfect, there was also a food fair taking place so we bought pizza for lunch and listened to the morris dancers jingling about behind us as we sat on the lawns.  As we have bought annual passes, we are certain to return.


  1. Thanks for sharing your visit Alison. Many moons ago I walked from Peterborough to Burghley House as part of a Duke of Edinburgh award. I can't remember what we did when we actually got there so have always wanted to return. William certainly did well for himself and the garden looks rather fabulous.

  2. Looks like an excellent place to visit. Such great sculptures - I particularly like the moose!
    And that's a superb cedar - one of the few conifers I can recognise. Funny how all the cedars in our stately homes seem to be the same age and size. I wonder if there will be a shortage when that generation disappears?
    Thanks for sharing :)


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