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Southwest Lincolnshire Country Houses
by Michael Ford, Country House Editor
Harlaxton ManorDay 2 - We found out from the Tourist Information office that Harlaxton Manor, which usually only opens its gardens to the public, was holding an open-house today so as it was just the other side of Grantham, this is where we aimed for.
Harlaxton Manor is currently the British campus of the University of Evansville. Here 160 residential students follow courses in British and European studies.
The first sight and the approach is nothing but fantastic. After passing through the entrance gate one is presented with a view of the manor house at the end of a dead straight driveway, almost a mile long. Progress along this is an experience not to be missed with the enormous awesome pile of stone, windows and towers in the distance getting larger and larger all the time.
The house was built between 1832 and 1844 by Anthony Salvin followed by William Burn in 1838, for Mr Gregory Gregory (1786-1854), a bachelor. The style is Elizabethan mixed with Jacobean and Baroque. Gregory had previously lived in the old Elizabethan manor house in the village of which only an archway remains near the church.
Expectations of what was behind the entrance door to such a house are in no way disappointing. From the entrance hall a stone staircase leads to the main rooms which are at ground level on the garden side, the house being built into the side of a hill. Amazing stuccowork is everywhere. The dining-room ceiling is a riot of pattern and colour followed by a beautiful anteroom to the long gallery, which stretches the full length of the house. The gold drawing room has a painted ceiling framed by a sensational frieze of gold. The Cedar staircase is just indescribable Baroque, perhaps like looking up to heaven and then there is the great hall, Jacobean with truss supported roof and gigantic fireplace.
The gardens around the house are by Prince Charles Joseph de Ligne in the classical style, with French, Italian and Dutch influences. The walled garden, halfway along the drive, is said to be probably the most ornate in Britain. The gardens are currently under restoration, which gives an added interest. The marble lions on the rear terrace are from Clumber Park.
The gardens are open from April to October 11am - 5pm, daily except Mondays.
Harlaxton village has a wealth of unusual and picturesque houses thanks to George de Ligne Gregory, the father of Gregory Gregory, who had many of them rebuilt and prettified between 1790 and 1820.
NEXT STOP: Woolsthorpe Hall