Boughton House (Northants): my favourite house of 2012 & “The English Versailles”

I adored this house.

I’m excited writing about it.

I wish I lived less than 30 minutes away and I could be a volunteer there.

My pictures are rubbish, admittedly.  There was a craft fair in the way!

And the organic growth of this house over the years – Tudor heart, French front – means it’s tricky to get in one shot.

It’s one rambling pile.

Plus, photos aren’t allowed inside.

Above, from the front – a French Chateau, fit for the English Ambassador to Paris on his return to England (armed with some beautiful pieces from Versailles, including the most exquisite bureau by Pierre Gole) – and from the back (below) a Tudor manor.  Not wholly dissimilar then to Wentworth Woodhouse, which is also two houses back-to-back.

But go to see the Great Hall(s), the unfinished wing (to see construction techniques), the State Rooms, the private rooms, the storage rooms, the magnificent stairs.

Go to see the gardens that are being brought back to life.

Go to see the internal courtyard gardens.

Go to see the beautiful contents, including a pair of Meissen swans made for Madame de Pompadour.  Room after room of wonderful and different things to see.

Go to watch the video that lasts 1 hour, presented by Selina Scott that is showing in one of the rooms.  I wish more houses had ‘proper’ videos like this on offer.  Even better, had it been at the start or in an outbuilding I could have watched it before visiting the house and wouldn’t have needed guide notes as I went around.

Go to see a house untouched because its owners (the Dukes of Beccleuch) had other houses in Scotland and so shut this house up. That means it is very well preserved, in its original state.

Go to see the house of a family who seem to have survived all the other problems many great families have succumbed to during the 20th century.

There is too much to take in during a single trip to I hope to return.  We didn’t even get a proper chance to look at the gardens, which are being restored.

Just go.

Go here for a virtual tour.

When visited: August 2012

House * out of 5: *****

Garden * out of 5: ***

Website: http://www.boughtonhouse.org.uk/

Theme tune: Je t’aime

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