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Southwest Lincolnshire Country Houses
by Michael Ford, Country House Editor
Belton HouseDay 7 - We then moved on to Belton in the northern outskirts of Grantham.
Belton House is a beautiful classic restoration masterpiece built between 1685 and 1688 for Sir John Brownlow, the 3rd Baron of Great Humby. He had inherited a fortune from his father who was a lawyer. The house has an eleven bay front with the centre three being pedimented. The whole facade is symmetrical and is crowned by a large cupola. The 3rd Earl Brownlow restored the house in the 1870s. Through marriage the property pass into the hands of the Cust family. John Cust was created Earl Brownlow and Viscount Alford in 1815. The 7th Baron Brownlow gave Belton to The National Trust in 1984.
The entrance leads into the Marble Hall, which has a chequer-board floor and beautiful woodcarvings on the wall panelling. The Saloon likewise is wood panelled with intricate carvings but also has a magnificent plastered ceiling. The Chapel has a quite extraordinary and overpowering reredos. There are exquisite beds in the bedrooms with the one in the Blue Bedroom being over 16ft high. The Staircase Hall has a fine decorated staircase and here hangs perhaps the best known picture in the house of Adelaide, Countess Brownlow by Frederick Leighton. Other rooms of note are the Library with its delightfully figured marble fireplace, the Tapestry Room with early 18th century tapestries depicting the story of Diogenes, the Hondecoeter Room and the Red Drawing Room. There are many family pictures throughout the house along with lovely furnishings and decor.
The stable block is of classic country house proportions and looks very solid. The gardens are formal and there is an orangery in the Italian garden. The park stretches to over 1000 acres with an avenue leading the eye to Bellmount Tower which was built in 1749 and stands on a nearby hillside. It is said that seven counties may be seen from the top of the tower.
The author Edith Wharton was so taken by Belton House that she had a miniature version of it built in Massachusetts.
Belton has been used as a setting for many television series and dramas including 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Tom Jones', 'The Buccaneers' and 'Bleak House'.
The church of St. Peter and St. Paul in the grounds dates from about 1200 and is filled with monuments to both the Brownlow and Cust families.
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