Burton Constable Hall in East Yorkshire has been home to the Constable family for over 400 years. Three hundred acres of parkland, designed by Capability Brown, surround the fine Elizabethan country house.
Our first visit to Burton Constable Hall was in mid-June 2020, as the coronavirus lockdown was being eased.
Unfortunately the Hall itself was still closed then, as was part of the Stable Block, but the extensive grounds were open, giving great views back to the Hall, particularly from across the lake.
The site had been prepared for social distancing both at the entrance and throughout the grounds. However on the showery afternoon when we visited, there were very few visitors, so no difficulty in that regard.
Drinks and snacks were available on a takeaway basis with carefully organised queuing.
Burton Constable Hall is one of several outstanding stately homes in Yorkshire that are included in Historic Houses free-to-members category. Recently we reported on another, Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens, 20 miles to the north.
Burton, by the way, is from Old English meaning ‘fortified farmstead’ and indeed the history of Burton Constable goes back a very long way. Earthworks on the site of the 13th Century deserted village of Burton Constable can be seen along one of the parkland walks.
Burton Constable Hall
We finally managed to see inside the Hall in October 2020, again on a showery afternoon, but no matter when exploring inside.
And what a gem it proved to be! Burton Constable Hall is up there with the finest stately homes in the country.
About thirty rooms were open to visitors out of a total of a hundred rooms in the Hall. The south wing is the private residence of the Straker family, descendants of the Chichester-Constables.
Although the Hall dates back to Elizabethan times, the interiors are 18th and 19th Century. The larger rooms, including the Great Hall and the Long Gallery with its rows of gilded chairs, are the most striking, however we found many of the smaller rooms, such as the Blue Dressing Room and the Chinese Room to be of great interest. The Chapel is particularly impressive and make certain to leave time to explore the museum with its Cabinet of Curiosities.
Another curiosity is a sperm whale skeleton, 58 feet long. This is from a whale that was stranded on the nearby north sea coast in 1825. It is mentioned in Herman Melville’s famous novel Moby-Dick, published in 1851. The skeleton can be viewed in the Great Barn.
The Stable Block gives an insight into the lives of Victorian grooms and stable boys.
Touring the Hall and associated buildings is not a fifteen minute walk through, as with some stately homes. We would have liked a couple of hours or more to really appreciate the furnishings and the paintings, but social distancing considerations meant it was not possible on this visit. Hopefully that will be possible in the future.
There are small gardens around the Hall and an attractive Orangery building, containing lemon trees.
An 18th Century walled garden is situated some distance from the Hall at the far side of the lake. It was closed when we visited, although looking through the gates, it seemed to be in a rather run-down condition.
So I wouldn’t recommend Burton Constable Hall for garden enthusiasts – rather visit nearby Burton Agnes Hall and Gardens.
What this site doesn’t have to offer in the way of gardens, is largely made up for with its extensive parkland.
We followed the Woodland Walk, which stretches south from the Hall for almost half a mile through an avenue of mighty oak trees, before turning west towards the serpentine lake, with its Capability Brown bridge.
The lake itself provided some great reflective scenes, enhanced by water lilies and various geese and ducks. However the panorama was spoiled to some extent by the holiday village on the far side of the lake.
At the north end of the lake is the Menagerie building, but that is closed to visitors. The Walled Garden nearby contains an orchard and about 40 different species of climbing roses.
We walked directly back to the Hall from the bridge, covering about three miles in total.
Other parkland walks include a two mile Wildlife Sculpture Trail, which would particularly appeal to children, and shorter East Park and Winter walks, the latter around the site of the deserted village.
None of the walks involve any gradients, although walks across to the lake are over fairly uneven farmland that could be muddy after extensive rain.
Entry to Burton Constable Grounds is £6.35 for adults and £5.70 for over 65s. When the Hall is open, entry is about £4 extra.
If you take up annual membership with Historic Houses, you will get free entry to Burton Constable Hall, plus 300 other heritage sites. Enter our unique code STEW05 at ‘Add discount code’ and new members will receive a £5 discount. With this discount individual adult annual membership is £51 per year and joint membership £84. This also applies if you wish to give annual membership as a gift.
We have reviewed several other properties under Historic Houses and see also: Historic Houses versus National Trust – Which to join?
POSTED 29th JUNE 2020 by STEVE HANSON. Updated OCTOBER 11th, 2020. The photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.