Burghley House was built between 1565 and 1587 by William Cecil, Lord Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I. Cecil intended Burghley as his family seat; he also owned a London house and the remarkable palace for entertaining the Queen and Court that he built at Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire (sadly no longer standing.)
William Cecil was his own architect, basing the design for Burghley on elements of other great houses of the period together with European influences. It seems that Cecil himself spent little time at the house beyond visits to oversee elements of the building. The need to be in close attendance to the intrigues of the Elizabethan court prevented him from spending too much time at his
'country estate.' Externally, the appearance of Burghley House is largely as it was when completed by Cecil's masons in 1587.
However, the interior of Burghley is far from that of the Elizabethan house that might be expected. In 1678, John Cecil inherited the title and became the 5th Earl of Exeter. John was a modern thinking man with a passion for the arts. He travelled extensively in France and Italy, purchasing an immense collection of works of art for his great house at Burghley. In order to display these acquisitions he set about the modernisation of his home, employing many of the great craftsmen of the day to transform Burghley into his vision of a true 'Palace of the Arts.'
Paintings, furniture, ceramics and sculpture.
Architecture, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Personalities
Key artists and exhibits
- William Cecil, Lord Burghley
- Queen Elizabeth I