Built between 1598 and 1610 by Sir Henry Griffith, Burton Agnes Hall is an Elizabethan stately home that has stayed within our family for more than four hundred years. Fifteen generations have filled the Hall with treasures, from magnificent carvings commissioned when the Hall was built to French impressionist paintings, contemporary furniture, tapestries and other modern artwork in recent years.
Simon Jenkins, author of England’s Thousand Best Houses, described Burton Agnes Hall as ‘the perfect English house’ and as one of the twenty best English houses alongside Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Chatsworth House.
Burton Agnes Hall is a house of immense charm and character. It has many unusual features and is fortunate in suffering so little from alterations or additions in its history. The family stress that it is a ‘lived-in’ home and this welcome quality is perhaps its most appealing asset. Since the Norman Manor House was built by Roger de Stuteville in 1173 the property has never changed hands by sale, though it has passed from family to family on occasions when the male line has ended.
The beautiful proportions of the Hall and its adherence to the principles of Tudor Renaissance architecture (Commoditie, Firmness and Delight) confirm that a professional hand drew up the designs. The architect was in fact Robert Smithson – Master Mason to Queen Elizabeth I and builder of such other famous houses as Longleat, Wollaton and Hardwick. It is the only Smithson house where the plan still exists, in the RIBA collection. In his definitive book on the Smithsons, Mark Girouard called Burton Agnes a ‘splendid and glittering composition’.