Yesterday visited a craft fair at Burton Constable Hall, central Holderness, East Yorkshire. So long since I had been to Burton Constable Hall that it was in effect a first visit. The event was held in part of the stable block of buildings, as the room was so large and showed no signs of past stable partitions I imagine it was once used to train horses, or indoor high jumping, dressage, or the like. The two courtyard stable block incorporates all the support trades needed for hunt horses and those used to transport the family and guests, many like the blacksmith’s ‘shop’ restored.
Also toured the house interior, self-guided route with guides in each principal room to discuss the fixtures and fittings should you wish. All very interesting and informative, although many items lack an explanatory caption. A couple of particularly interesting things for me were; the top floor of the three-storey building were mostly servants quarters and it is only on specific days once a month that they are open, however a number of the principal rooms had the door by which the servants would have gained entry open so the steep, narrow access stairs and corridors were visible. Particularly interesting was the servants access behind a door into the master bedroom, on one side all opulence on the other a very steep wooden-stepped spiral staircase leading to a narrow dark corridor almost ‘in the wall’, this was the access whereby warm water was brought to the ‘master’s’ washing table (a modern-day health and safety nightmare).
Also the Roman Catholic chapel incorporated into the 18th century restorations. The Constable family were generally noted Roman Catholics, some members suffering for their faith. Maybe dictated by necessity, the high alter was not at the east end of the room. Similarly the beds in the various bedrooms faced various directions, north-south as well as east-west (a traditional notion being that one’s bed should have the same orientation as one’s grave will have, east-west).
The landscaped grounds are very fine with the plantations and individual trees still set in permanent grassland (unlike, for example Brocklesby Hall, north Lincolnshire, where the parkland has mostly been ploughed-up. Also at Burton Constable the grass of the parkland is cut and the clippings removed, giving a pristine image to the parkland. The ‘ridge-and-furrow’ evidenced in much of the parkland may be a remnant of a pre-enclosure open field or, maybe, evidence of being once ploughed-up (perhaps in the Second World War) by single, fixed-furrow ploughs.
More on Burton Constable to follow.