Boughton House is one of Britain’s grandest and best-preserved stately homes. As well as the splendours of the house, you can also enjoy the 18th-century landscaped gardens, the woodlands and a grand country park.
Boughton House contains one of Britain’s most outstanding collections of fine art, with a superb display of furniture, tapestries, art, porcelain and carpets adorning the State Rooms and Halls. Visitors can view a magnificent range of paintings by great artists, including The Adoration of the Shepherds by El Greco, Gainsbourgh’s portrait of Mary Montagu, grisailles and portraits by Van Dyck, and Breaking Cover by John Wootton.
Boughton has some of the best-preserved baroque State Rooms in the British Isles. Here you can walk through grand apartments of contrasting character decorated in extravagant yet elegant taste with the finest artworks of the House’s golden era. Within a few steps, you will see the finest French furniture from Boulle, enjoy beautiful Mortlake tapestries and 16th century carpets from the Middle East.
Once you’ve had your tour of the House, you can step out into the surrounding country park. Its tranquil delights have been carefully restored over the last decade, and now there are wide sculptured lawns to survey, serene lakes, waterways, woods and avenues of trees to be strolled down.
Recently we caught up with Charles Lister , House Manager at this Historical and beautiful house.
When was Boughton House built and by whom?
“Whilst Boughton began its life as a simple Tudor manor in the 16th century, the House as you see it today is the result of the creative vision of Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu, a direct ancestor of current Duke of Buccleuch of Boughton.
His architectural transformation of the House has led to Boughton often being called “the English Versailles”, due to its striking resemblance to Louis XIV’s palace, Ralph having been English Ambassador to the French Court.”
Have you lived in the area all your life?
“Nearly, I grew up on Boughton’s beautiful 11 thousand acre Estate, in a bungalow within the main House’s Walled Garden. My father was Head Gardener at Boughton when I was younger and, in my role as property manager, I too have made a home here at Boughton.”
How long have you worked here at Boughton House
“I first joined Buccleuch way back in 1988 and took on the mantle of property manager in 2003.”
Was it a natural choice to work here?
“I have a great love for Boughton House; it has always been home for me and it felt like a natural progression to take up a position which would allow me to help preserve it for generations to come to enjoy it too. A House like Boughton thrives on loyalty and I was lucky to be encouraged and nurtured in my decades of employment by the then Director of the Trust and the Family.”
Are there new things you discover after all this time?
“Something which continues to amaze me about Boughton House is how often it throws up surprises. I have spent my life learning about its treasures, such as the 40 Grisaille by Van Dyck and Serves porcelain once owned by French Royalty, but just last year I read a collection of letters by John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, unearthed from the Estate’s archives by Northampton historian Alan Toseland. These letters showed Boughton in a whole new light for me, offering insight into life in the 1700s through the eyes of the 2nd Duke. Even the way the House looks can change from day to day in different lights. The part Lord Montagu played in the establishment of “bonfire night” was also a recent revelation.
Do you ever wonder what it was like to live here back then?
“Boughton House is so well preserved that when you walk into the Great Hall under Louis Cheron’s 300-year-old Marriage of Hercules and Hebe ceiling or pass through any of its five glorious State Rooms, you’re transported back to another age. Here at Boughton House, you can get an idea of how the Duke’s ancestors lived, although we certainly have many more advantages in the modern age.”
A lot of famous and historical figures have stayed here…do you remember all of them?
“Boughton House has been home to the Montagu and Buccleuch families for centuries, and has welcomed many special guests throughout the centuries, including King William III, who was so impressed by Boughton’s State Rooms that he commissioned the building of his own suite of State Rooms at Hampton Court Palace. Ralph Montagu entertained many of the great and the good of his day although his son was fond of putting itching powder in his guests beds or turning on fountains when they passed by.”
A lot of new ideas were implemented here, can you tell us a few?
“Perhaps the most surprising idea that has its origins here at Boughton House is Bonfire Night. Edward, 1st Lord Montagu, of Boughton, who was a former Nothamptonshire MP, established the annual celebration we know today by sponsoring The Observance of 5th November Act 1605, calling for than annual thanksgiving of the failure of the plot to assassinate King James I of England.”
It must be a huge responsibility looking after such a great big house, is there a large team?
“It is. Boughton houses a substantial portion of the renowned Buccleuch art collection, and while we have a great responsibility to preserve this wonderful slice of history, we’re also extremely privileged to spend our time somewhere as beautiful as Boughton.
What has been your most memorable event or events held here?
“The Estate has played host to countless memorable events and it would be impossible to pick just one. However, looking back just at the last year, one poignant event was a concert by the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble from South Africa. They played an arrangement of music written by eighteenth century British African composer Ignatius Sancho, dedicated to his benefactor the Duke of Montagu, and brought his music back to life after 250 years.”
A wedding day to remember at Boughton House
When you imagine your wedding day, you envisage your family and friends in beautiful surroundings celebrating your union.
Boughton House provides the perfect backdrop for your special day, promising grandeur, luxury and intimacy in its droves.
Our Great Hall is simply one of the most beautiful rooms in the county, and its intricately painted ceiling and a grand fireplace create an unforgettable atmosphere for you to share your ceremony with your loved ones. In summer 2014, we opened our brand new events venue The Tapestry Suite. The Suite is nestled in the heart of the historic stableyard, providing a series of rooms for the exclusive use of you and your guests. The rooms retain their period features, whilst also providing a clean, modern and practical facility.
Boughton House is rare among stately homes, as we are licensed to conduct ceremonies outdoors in the colonnade. So, if you’re thinking of a summer ceremony, do consider holding it here: the colonnade is flanked by two grand wings of the house, a simply glorious setting. The main hall seats up to 100 guests, with the addition of a break out bar and daytime bridal suite.
This is just the beginning of what Boughton House has to offer. The surrounding parkland and wider Estate provide some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, available to you for your wedding photography, ensuring Boughton provides not only the perfect day, but also perfect memories.
Issued by Beattie Communications on behalf of Buccleuch
For further information please contact:
020 7053 6012