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Boughton House, Northamptonshire

Front of the house by Barbara Ballard Boughton House was, in 1528, a Tudor manor with a great hall. Over the centuries it expanded, mostly under the direction of the 1st Duke of Montagu who wanted to turn it into a showplace reflecting the French Versailles tradition. He had the north front with state rooms added as well as the stables. However all of his plans did not materialize with one wing remaining empty and various facades and décor uncompleted. Thus the house is an amalgam of various parts including seven courtyards, 52 chimneystacks, 12 entrances, and various roof levels.

View of the house by Barbara Ballard In the house are fine art, 17th and 18th century furniture, tapestries, needlework, carpets, porcelain, arms, silver, and painted ceilings. In the grounds is the canalized river Ise and its water features. Also in the grounds is a walled garden with an herbaceous border.

The house is the Northamptonshire home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry.

Tour of the House

The main entrance is actually at the side of the house where a staircase wall has trompe l’oeil paintings on the walls. In this area look for c 1700 English gilt gesso pier glasses and walnut tables, a 1710 walnut long-case clock, and mahogany chairs. A collection of paintings adorns the walls of an ante room. Of note in the room are 16th century glass sconces, a 1672 writing table with mother of pearl and ebony decoration, and George III chairs.

The little hall was once part of the Elizabethan great chamber. There are a painted ceiling, a carved fireplace overmantel, and two Louis XVI pedestal cabinets as well as numerous paintings in the hall. The present drawing room has served as a parlour and dining hall in past centuries. Of special note are two tables inset with Sevres plaques, a pair of white Carrara marble topped George II dolphin tables, and two white c 1670 Chinoiserie cabinets.

The morning room dates from 1630. Its walls are decorated with Mortlake tapestries. Two 17th century clocks are in the room. In the rainbow room are displays of further treasures that include 18th century Meissen swans, late 17th century chairs, and 1753-62 Sèvres porcelain. The audit room is an amalgamation of two former rooms. In it are displayed a collection of Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain which includes more than 100 pieces made for Louis XV. The ten walnut chairs date from the early 17th century.

The Egyptian hall is one of the oldest rooms in Boughton House. Of note are a painted ceiling and a 17th century oak refectory table. The great hall, dating from Elizabethan times, has a painted barrel vaulted ceiling hiding the original timber roof. Mortlake tapestries are also located in the room as are two mid 18th century English gilt tables and a 17th century pier table. The high pavilion ante room has an interesting c 1700 inlaid brass and tortoise shell cabinet. The bedroom next to this room has two Mortlake tapestries, a George III commode, and a Queen Anne table.

The state rooms are in the French style and are made up of two projecting pavilions with five staterooms on the first floor and reception rooms on the ground floor. The first one (a dining room) has a painted ceiling as do all the state rooms. William and Mary chairs and an 18th century clock are especially notable while the second state room (drawing room) contains original walnut chairs and more Mortlake tapestries. The third state room (bedroom) has a state bed with crimson silk hangings and Mortlake tapestries. The fourth room in this series is a dressing room. French tapestries and paintings decorate the walls. The fifth state room was designed to lead to stairs to the upper level.

The old laundry is now a display room for a collection of armoury. The stable block on the west side has been restored and serves as accommodation for offices, educational facilities, refreshment rooms, and exhibition areas that contain the family coach.

Boughton House garden by Barbara Ballard The park is listed Grade I and is made up of lawns, lakes (called Broadwater), waterways, woods and an avenues of trees, some of which are nearly 290 years old. There is a walled garden with herbaceous borders and a sensory garden section. Displays of daffodils brighten the springtime. The River Ise flows through the gardens in canal form.

Visitor Information

Boughton House
Three miles north-east of Kettering on A43 junction
Northamptonshire, East Midlands
Tel. 0 1536 515 731
Open: house, Aug, daily, 1pm-5pm, by guided tour only (last tour at 3.30pm); gardens, cafe and shop open daily, noon-5pm, last entry 4pm
Historic Houses Association member; parking; garden and plant centre; shop; tea-room; special events; parking
Web: Boughton House

Photos © by Barbara Ballard
Boughton House does not allow interior photos.

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