Our first visit to Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens in East Yorkshire was in June 2020, just as the initial coronavirus lockdown was being eased. The Hall itself was closed, but the extensive gardens and woodland walk made up for the fact that we could only see the Hall from the outside.
It took almost two years before we actually saw inside the Hall itself. Our second visit was in May 2022 when all coronavirus restrictions had been removed and finally we were able to admire its many fine state rooms.
This is very much a ‘lived-in home’ and it is interesting to note that the estate has been in the hands of the same family since Roger de Stuteville built the Manor House, adjacent to the Hall, in 1173. Although the estate is now owned by the Burton Agnes Preservation Society, the current family occupants are the Cunliffe-Listers.
Burton Agnes Hall
The Elizabethan Hall, was built by Sir Henry Griffiths between 1601 and 1610 to a design by Roger Smythson, who was also the architect for Longleat, Hardwick Hall and Wollaton Hall.
Three floors of the Hall are open to the public. Entry on the ground floor is via the Great Hall with its elaborate 17th Century plaster chimneypiece.
This leads through to the Inner Hall with its decorative wooden wall cladding and to the Chinese Room with dark murals of Chinese scenes.
Nearby is the Dining Room with large windows giving a light and airy feel, as indeed is the case with many of the state rooms in the Hall.
Ascending the original massive Oak Staircase leads to the first floor and the White Drawing Room with its collection of Impressionist paintings. We found this artistic feature of the Hall to be a refreshing change from the usual lines of dark and dreary family portraits found in many stately homes.
Other rooms on this floor include the King’s Bedroom, the Justices’ Room and the Queen’s Bedroom.
Dominating the second floor is the Long Gallery which occupies the entire length of the Hall and is decorated with many modern paintings. A striking feature of this room is its elaborate plaster barrel ceiling.
Attached to the Long Gallery is a small Library and the Reading Room which contains more fine paintings including a portrait of Ingrid Bergman by Roger Montané.
The Walled Garden
We followed the one way system throughout the walled gardens which cover almost three acres. Small side gardens had access restricted to one household and this regulation was being observed by visitors. There is also a large maze which, not surprisingly, was closed.
The gardens themselves are quite stunning with over 4,ooo species, that are well cared for, beautifully laid out and clearly labelled. Different side gardens have different themes and normally include giant games for young and old including chess and snakes & ladders, although not available at the moment.
Of particular note are the many different campanulas, which appear well suited to the walled garden environment at Burton Agnes.
This is one of the finest and most colourful walled gardens we have ever seen and at this time of the year the fragrances from the flowers was almost overpowering.
The woodland walk heads north of the Hall for about a mile, with paths branching off to the sides. There are wooden sculptures along the way of squirrels, rabbits and other woodland creatures.
Possibly the best time to take this walk is in February when snowdrops abound, although in June there were plenty of interesting wild flowers, shrubs and trees to see.
The paths are well laid out and the land is flat, so no problems for the less nimble. Altogether there and back we covered about two miles.
Burton Agnes Manor House
Next to the Elizabethan Hall is the two storey Manor House built in 1173, but with many modifications over the centuries. This is managed by English Heritage on a free-to-enter basis.
Entry to Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens is £13 for adults and £8 for children. However if you take up annual membership with Historic Houses, you will get free entry, plus free entry to 300 other heritage sites. Enter our unique code STEW05 at ‘Add discount code’ and new members will receive a £5 discount. This also applies if you wish to give annual membership as a gift.
POSTED 7th JUNE 2020 and UPDATED MAY 25th 2022 by STEVE HANSON. The photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.