Our visit to Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens in East Yorkshire was in early June, just as the coronavirus lockdown was being eased. The Hall itself was still closed, but the extensive gardens and woodland walk made up for the fact that we could only see the Hall from the outside.
Several fine stately homes in Yorkshire are included in Historic Houses free-to-members category, but this is the first that we have visited.
The property had been well prepared for social distancing both at the entrance and throughout the site. The toilets were open and drinks and pizzas were available on a takeaway basis with carefully organised queuing.
We were a little unsure what the gardens would be like after being closed for over two months. However, we needn’t have worried as it soon became apparent that the gardeners had been very busy during this period.
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.
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.
From the outside we could appreciate the unusual semi-circular bays, contrasting with the five-sided bays. Walking down to the Gatehouse, there were great views back to the Hall, as also from the terrace to the east of the Hall with its pool featuring a rotating metal ball.
On a future visit in more normal times, we look forward to seeing inside the Hall with its 17th Century plaster ceilings and chimneypieces and its Long Gallery running the full length of the second floor at the front of the Hall.
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 Manor House built in 1173, but with many modifications over the centuries. This is managed by English Heritage on a free-to-enter basis. It is closed at the moment, but the impressive Norman undercroft could be seen through the windows.
Entry to Burton Agnes Gardens is £8 for adults and £7.50 for over 65s. When the Hall is open, entry is an additional £4. See Historic Houses for our unique £5 discount offer on annual and gift membership.
POSTED 7th JUNE 2020 by STEVE HANSON. The photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.