We had a late start in the morning as P had some business to take care of for a new web customer. That's both the blessing and the curse of the internet, that work can be done anywhere. I had taken a walk around the lake early in the morning. I may have gone for longer if I had realised that I had all that spare time. However, it was a chance to catch up on my diary, do the laundry and relax for a bit.
Eventually we managed to get away and headed to the nearest town in an easterly direction - Stamford, which is a conservation area. These photos were taken as we drove through, with the camera aimed out the car window.
Just a mile or so out of town is Burghley House. We took a wrong turn initially and came to the gates which are not the visitor entrance:
So we backtracked, and found the correct turn. Burghley is an amazing house, built by William Cecil around the time of Queen Elizabeth 1. There are still family members living there in private apartments. Later earls had been passionate art collectors, and there are huge collections on the walls of most of the rooms.
Burghley was used during the filming of "Pride and Prejudice" as the residence of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The town of Stamford was used as the setting for Meryton. I got into conversation with one of the guides who described the preparations for filming. All the street signs were removed. Every house had its front door replaced, and they were also given a special coating to make the stonework look more "period". A huge insurance policy was necessary in case the coating wouldn't come off later! The streets were also given a coating of mud, shit etc to make them look less modern.
We weren't allowed to take photos inside Burghley (sells more guidebooks!), but you can get a glimpse here. A number of the rooms have magnificent painted ceilings by an Italian, Antonio Verrio. His work culminated in the Heaven Room and the Hell Staircase. The Heaven Room walls and ceilings are covered by scenes of "Gods and Goddesses disporting themselves as Gods and Goddesses are wont to do". Following the Heaven Room, the ceiling of the enormous Hell Staircase shows "the mouth of hell as the enormous gaping mouth of a cat and countless souls in torment within" (quoting from the guidebook).
I was also intrigued by the Old Kitchen, one of the few rooms in the house which still appears more or less as it was in Tudor times. Rows of copper pans hang on the walls, and in one area, ranks of turtle skulls, the remains of creatures used to make soup!
I was keen to visit the Sculpture Gardens, a collection of contemporary sculpture, and the (new this year) Garden of Surprises. However, visiting Grantham was on the agenda for the day, and so we didn't have enough time. We contented ourselves with these images taken close to the main house:
Several famous people come from Grantham: Isaac Newton, Margaret Thatcher, and more importantly, P's ancestors who lived there in 1841 before leaving England for Australia, and later New Zealand. We consulted old directories in the Grantham library, and found we were quite close to where they had lived, so walked round a few blocks and took photos. However, most of the buildings seemed to have been built late in the 1800s, which made it a little difficult to imagine what it had looked like earlier on.
The statue in front of the Guildhall is Isaac Newton:
An incongruous mix of cultures: