A tour guide’s all-time favourite UK places.
This autumn, Visit Britain, the marketing arm of the British tourist industry, is launching its ‘Great British Staycation Campaign’ to encourage people to holiday in the UK.
Soul City Wanderer (aka Frank Molloy) is one of the UK’s most accredited and experienced tour guides. Over three decades he has visited nearly every part of the country, touring many of the places that Great Britain and Ireland has to offer.
In a new blog series, he will list his all-time favourite five places by area (spiralling out from London*). These are personal choices, some obvious, some obscure.
This week, the East coast including Lincolnshire and Norfolk.
Burghley House, Lincolnshire
On the southern borders of Lincolnshire near Stamford, sits the spectacular Burghley House, a grand 16th-century English country house.
Grade I listed, and attracting over 100,000 visitors annually, Burghley House is the largest, and arguably the grandest example of an Elizabethan stately home. It was designed by its original owner, Lord Burghley, better known to history as William Cecil. The Cecil family made their wealth in the lucrative wool trade. William became Queen Elizabeth I’s closest adviser, and founder of a powerful aristocratic dynasty that still runs the estate. Since 1961, it has been owned by their charitable trust.
Since the completion of Burghley House in 1587, the finest master craftsmen in Europe have been employed to maintain its stunning architectural legacy.
There are over 100 dazzling rooms to be visited, each a veritable treasure trove of paintings, sculptures, tapestries and outstanding pieces of furniture spanning English taste from the 16th to 19th centuries. One suite of rooms is remodelled in the baroque style, with carvings by Grinling Gibbons. The house also features an authentic Tudor kitchen, and a Great Hall, complete with a double hammer-beam roof.
Burghley House features an extensive art collection with paintings by masters such as Veronese, Giordano and Artemisia Gentileschi. The so-called ‘Heaven Room’ has ceiling paintings by Verrio, while the walls of the complementary ‘Staircase to Hell’ are by Stothard.
The original Elizabethan façades and variety of historic interiors make Burghley a favourite destination for movie directors. Several blockbusters have been filmed here, including Pride & Prejudice (2005), Da Vinci Code (2006), and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007).
Surrounding the house is a 300-acre Tudor deer park, re-landscaped by the great Lancelot ‘Capability Brown’ in the 18th century. He also created a lake in the form of a meandering river and designed the Lion Bridge to cross over it. All this is completed by an Elizabethan garden, a sculpture garden and a garden of surprise.
Burghley: get their early, and spend the day away from the hurly-burly.
Note: All sites mentioned were operating pre-lockdown. Please check relevant websites before embarking on any potential visit. Another recommendation will appear tomorrow.
For the very best in guided private tours of the UK visit www.yourlondontours.com
*Operators in the UK tour industry often separate the areas of the country according to what touring can be achieved in a region in one day. As a London-based operator, my ‘map’ spirals outwards from the capital and is separated thus:
- Northern Home Counties (Beds/Herts/Cambs)
- Eastern Home Counties (Essex/Suffolk)
- Southern Home Counties (Kent, Surrey, Sussex)
- Western Home Counties (Ox/Berks/Bucks)
- South coast (Hants/Dorset)
- Western England (Somerset/Gloucs/Wilts)
- South West England (Devon & Cornwall)
- Wales (north & south)
- Welsh Borders (Worcestershire/Herefordshire/Shropshire/Cheshire)
- Western Midlands (Brum/Warks/Staffs)
- Eastern Midlands (Northants/Leics/Rutland)
- Northern Midlands (Notts/Derbys)
- East coast (Norfolk/Lincs)
- Yorks (all ridings)
- North West (Manchester/Merseyside/Lancs/Lakes/Cumbria)
- North East (Durham/Tyne & Wear/Northumberland)
- Southern Scotland (Borders/Lowlands)
- Northern Scotland (Highlands/Islands)
- Ireland (Northern/Southern)