Visiting Belton House in Lincolnshire

St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Belton. (Not National Trust).

Even though I come from Lincolnshire I had never been to Belton House. It’s near Gratham and about 20 miles south of Lincoln. I was born and brought up in Louth in the north of the county. Lincolnshire has been described as flat and boring but that’s wrong. It’s a large county with a varied landscape with a wonderful cathedral perched high over the city of Lincoln and can be see from miles around. There’s interesting market towns full of character, lots of good walks throughout the county and cycle tracks. The Lincolnshire Wolds consist of soft undulating hills and the coastline boasts some of the finest beaches in the country. From Barton Upon Humber in the north down to Spalding in the south, the visitor will find variety, friendly people and lots to see and do.

We visit at least once a year and on this occasion we decided to call in on Belton House before driving up to Louth. It was a beautiful sunny day as you can see from the pictures.

According to the website for the church of St Peter & St Paul, their regular services are well attended and very much the centre of village life.

The church has a collection of what is described as funerary monuments, you can see a couple in the picture. The church dates from the 14th century with a mausoleum to the Brownlow family added on in the early 19th century. Beautiful stained glass windows.

The layout of the gardens there is very formal. Lots of gardeners were working keeping everything tidy but were quite happy to pause for a chat.

The house is quite an austere building from this side especially when the sun isn’t shining on it.

We found the rooms inside the house really interesting; full of artefacts, paintings, oriental wall coverings, period furniture as you would expect and sumptious furnishings. A real treasure of a house belonging to the National Trust and great to have the freedom just to wander round the rooms.

An eclectic mix of objects in each room.
Paintings galore including late 1600’s English portraiture.

I’m not a great fan of the large, dark, family paintings which often hang on the walls of these old houses but now again I spot one that I really love. In Belton House there were three portraits I particualrly liked. What a great pose by ‘Kitty’ Brownlow.

Left – Emmeline ‘Nina’ Mary Elizabeth Welby-Gregory, became on marriage, Mrs Henry John Cockayne-Cust (1867-1955) by The Hon. John Collier Middle- Nina’s charcoal drawing which was used as reference for her painted plaster self-portrait. (She was a sculptor). Right – Katherine ‘Kitty’ Hariet Kinloch, Lady Brownlow (d.1952)

There was also an interesting display of the robes and coronet worn by Edward Cust, the 7th Baron who died in 2021 aged 85. He gave the House to the National Trust in 1984. The present Lord Brownlow born in 1963 is also a life peer.

Love the detail in the coronet finished off with an ermine trim.

Back outside we admired the front of the House which looked rather splendid in the sunshine.

The Main Entrance
The stable yard and cafe and gift shop.

Just a quick look around the gift shop and it was time to get on our way again and head towards Louth. More about this trip will follow in my next Blog.

A day out to Hidcote, Glos.

Like all of the celebrated gardens in the UK, Lockdown has had an effect on their care and maintenance programme. With few volunteers to help alongside the gardeners and no visitors to admire them, the gardens aren’t quite up to their usual standard. Worse still for organisations like the National Trust they’ve experienced a huge drop in income.

We belong to the National Trust and during the periods between Lockdowns we went to The Vyne twice, also The Courts Garden,and Stourhead and other places not owned by the National Trust. This year so far we’ve enjoyed the snowdrops at Newark Park and had a wonderful time with our daughter, husband and grandchildren at The Vyne celebrating my husband’s birthday with an al-fresco picnic.

We decided to go to Hidcote as we hadn’t been for a few years and it’s one of our favourite gardens. A great place for taking pictures too. It had been a Bank Holiday that weekend and true to form on the Monday the weather was awful – cold, blustery and wet! No wonder the Hidcote gardens looked a little bedraggled in places when we visited the next day but the gardeners were out there tidying up. It still looked lovely as you can see from the pictures. How they get the lawn to look that good I don’t know although mostly they were pretty sodden after all the rain and were cordoned off

So let me take you on a tour …

I’d like to say that it was a warm, sunny May day but actually it was breezy and cold although the sun did come out from time to time. To warm ourselves up we headed back to ‘Mrs Winthrop’s Cafe, where we bought a warm drink and found a seat back round by the Italian Shelter. It’s just to the side of what was the Bathing Pool and is a wooden, thatched structure. It’s a strange building and on the back wall has two watercolour paintings. I suppose in days gone by the owners and their guests would sit in there sheltering from the sun and looking through to the Bathing Pool or maybe the croquet set was stored in there? If it was used as a changing room it would have been very draughty!

A warming drink and a rare glimpse of the sun.
The two panels along the back wall of the ‘Italian Shelter’. Anyone for croquet?

Spurred on by the sun coming-out, although it soon disappeared again we walked out to the perimeter of the gardens through an area called ‘The Wilderness’. It’s a little wild and full of bluebells at this time of year. From the edge of the garden there’s a fine viewpoint across the hills. I also like the view of the ‘Long Walk’ looking through the wrought iron gates.

We then walked round to ‘Rock Bank’ to look at the view across to the Malverns. The lambs were having a great time playing in the corner of the field where there was a pile of branches.

Then we followed the winding pathway along the stream with lots of large Calla Lilies growing alongside it and headed back to what’s called the Stilt Garden. It has two splendid gazebos either side of the steps at the top end.

Gardener at work doing a great tidy up job in the Stilt Garden.

From here we walked across to the Kitchen Garden and the Plant House. We paused to look for newts in the Lily Pond and were delighted to spot one. The Plant House is closed at the moment but I managed to take a picture through one of the windows. I particularly liked the potting shed with its array of terracotta pots and display of dried grasses. And here vying for attention by one of the benches was yet another tame robin happy to pose for a picture.

Plant House, Potting Shed and another tame robin.
A perfect place to sit.

Once we’d wandered around the kitchen garden we felt we’d covered most of the garden. I bought a plant from the well-stocked Plant Centre and a few things from the shop and then it was time to head to the nearby village of Mickelton for a pub lunch at The Kings Arms. – Highly recommend it. We’ll look forward to going back to Hidcote as it’s gardens are delightful throughout the whole year.