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Belton House a Beltin' visit
Belton Woods Hotel (Grantham, Lincolnshire)
Member Name: arnoldhenryrufus
Belton Woods Hotel (Grantham, Lincolnshire)
Advantages: Beautiful house and gardens, good disabled parking, a lovely family church, childrens activities
Disadvantages: Short opening times for the house
It is coming to the end of our week holiday in Lincolnshire and we have one house left to visit, which is Belton House. Armed with my Hidden England Passport, we head off down the A52 towards Grantham.
Our Hidden England Passport allows us to get in on a ‘Bog off’, it covers five of the stately homes and castles of Lincolnshire, you pay full price for your first visit and get all the others on a buy one get one for free. The places on the passport are Belton House, Burghley House, Grimsthorpe Castle, Belvoir Castle and Rockingham Castle. It has its own website if you want to learn more which is www.hiddenengland.org .
We arrived down the long driveway leading towards the house and we approached the little ticket office, where we could purchase our entrance ticket. The lady took our passport and £8.00 for the price of one adult; she stamped the passport and kindly passed us two adult entrance tickets. We were given a leaflet with a small map giving us a list of available activities and where they were located. We asked for disabled parking and was immediately given (after showing her my badge) a nominated car parking space by way of a card with the No 2 on it, we were also given a leaflet full of useful information for disabled visitors (which I will cover further down in the review).
We parked up in a central courtyard just around the corner from the ticket booth and right next to the gift shop and restaurant. The main car park is quite a distance from the house and all the activities so be prepared for a bit of a walk. After our long journey we decide to buy a guide book from the gift shop and peruse it over a lovely cuppa in the restaurant before setting out on our visit.
The gift shop was on one side of the courtyard and as you entered the building that led you to the shop there was a lovely display of old carriages which still appeared to be in excellent condition, there was also an area here where you could join the National Trust, you will see a lot of these designated areas inviting you to join on your way around the house and grounds. There is a small ramp that takes you up in to the extremely over priced gift shop, if it were not for the fact that I like to have a guide book, then I would not bother to even go in the gift shops as they are always extortionately priced and filled with novelties that just get shoved in a draw or cabinet and forgotten about. Anyway enough moaning it’s off for that cuppa and a read of my guide book which cost us £3.95.
~~ The Restaurant ~~
This was located on the opposite side of the courtyard to the gift shop and operates a one way in and one way out system. Once you are in you have to follow the queue past where you buy or food and drink through into the restaurant to get out again. If you have not guessed already it is operated on a self service basis, from what I could see they change the menus daily and put a choice of 3 hot meals up on the chalk board. They do appear to be reasonably priced with a hot meal costing around £5.00, they also offer soup, sandwiches and a lovely array of home made cakes, scones etc. We decided to have a lovely piece of homemade coffee cake and a cup of tea and coffee. The dining area was like part of an old barn I would say; it was very large with plenty of tables and chairs. The walls were all painted white and had lots of lovely large framed black and white prints on display.
Fully refreshed from our little snack and drink, it was a quick visit to the loo’s which incidentally were outside and a bit primitive, but they were clean and tidy and in good working order, so what more do we really need.
~~ The House ~~
We walked out of the courtyard and round to the front of the house, my poor hubby being my chief photographer went off for a little jaunt across the front lawn so he could get a lovely picture of the front of the house, whilst I started to climb the stairs to the front doorway. This was the last chance to use our camera for a while as once again no cameras are allowed inside the building, which is a little disappointing especially when the brochure does not have photographs of all the rooms. Well, we will just have to rely on our happy memories of our visit.
The main house is open between 1230hrs and 1630hrs you can time your visit to arriving on the hour you can listen to a 6 minute talk all about the house held in the Marble Hall which is in front of you as you enter the house. This room with its oak panelling and its black and white marble floor dates back to 1850 for its decoration, yet it could quite easily fit into today’s modern home. Looking at it you can quite easily see where today’s designers get their inspirations. The room is basically empty in the centre to allow large groups of people to listen to the speaker, the walls display family paintings and there are period cabinets and ornaments displayed against the walls. There were some lovely busts and oak carvings in here too.
As you move through the house and up the stairs you visit a vast array of rooms some of which you can enter, other where they have used mirrors to allow you to see round corners and see the ornate ceilings, when you cannot get access to the room. The architecture here takes you through various centuries and design periods, as you travel round the house you will notice great differences especially with the ceilings some are artistically painted, some have beautiful cornices and moulds with decorative patterns and others are simply plain and painted white. It is like a walk through history as you travel through the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries.
It is not only recognisable in the decoration but also in the furniture and accessories that are on display, certain rooms always leave an impression on you, they were all beautiful in their own right, but a few just stood out. For me I like the Chinese Bedroom, it was quite unique in it’s’ design with the Chinese wallpaper which is made up of hand-painted sections complete with birds, butterflies and trees, running along the bottom is a scene of Chinese garden party. I believe it dates back to around 1840’s – 50’s. The bed with its small ornate canopy is also c 1840 and has glazed chintz hangings with matching curtains; there is also a lovely display of ceramics and Chinese furniture.
The Library was quite simply a magnificent sight I have never seen so many old books in one place. It was wall to wall books, shelves built purposely to fit the size of the books, starting with the largest at the bottom to the smallest on the top shelf. It would take longer than my life time to read them all, there must be thousands of them. I love everything old; my husband tells me that’s why I love him. Talking of my darling hubby his favourite room, I think it was called the Boudoir which was remodelled by James Wyatt in 1776-77. To us it looked very much like Wedgwood Green which was very pretty.
There was also a room where young children could dress up in period costume and play with games there were also quizzes and questionnaires available to make their visit fun as well as educational.
We exited the house on the other side which led us back to the courtyard.
~~ The Gardens ~~
We walked across the courtyard towards the gardens which were very neat and beautiful. There were small gravel paths which took you all around the central water feature, there were wonderful displays of flowers, conifers, statues and urns filled with plants dotted symmetrically around the outside, beautifully laid lawns in between. Even with children enjoying a picnic and playing games, it still had an air of peace and tranquillity about it, as you walked through towards the Orangery and the Church you came across a wonderful and massive display of Deep Red Dahlias. I do believe this was two gardens we went through that mingled in together, these being the Dutch Garden and the Italian Garden.
The Orangery was a large hot house, like a Botanical Garden, full from corner to corner with greener and exotic plants; there was a really large water lily (I think) in front of the central water feature. There was a small path inside which allowed you to walk all round it and enjoy the fragrances and plants.
I mentioned earlier that the paths also led to a church, this is the church of St Peter and St Paul, and it is situated in the grounds of Belton House but does not belong to the National Trust.
~~ The Church Of St Peter and St Paul ~~
The church is a marvellous architectural piece with designs from Norman, late Medieval, Georgian and Victorian eras, and the oldest parts of it dating back to the 13th Century. When you enter the small church you cannot help but be impressed by the many white stone tributes to members of the Brownlow and Cust families, they are simply spectacular to look at and it becomes quite obvious that this would have been the family church, as it has over the years become a shrine to them.
We walked back from the church through the park a little bit and across to the rear of the house and through the beautiful gardens here, I can only imagine the lovely views they would have had from the house when it was lived in, the gardens are all laid out very formally, and extremely picturesque.
At this stage I was starting to get very tired, so we stopped for another rest, my hubby who knows me only too well, thought it was time for us to call it a day before I got too bad, he did let me take a quick look at the Wildlife Discovery Centre before we set off.
~~ Wildlife Discovery Centre ~~
We followed the signs to this and for an adult I was a little disappointed, I don’t know really what I expected to see, but what I got was not it. As a mother and a grandmother I thought it was a wonderful idea. All that was there were two rooms made up in a barn where children could come in and make paper butterflies and snakes. Hear stories and be entertained in various interactive activities linking to wildlife. There is a member of staff in each room and parents stay with their children, this is open at weekends and through the summer holidays between 12.30 and 4.30pm.
~~ What Else Is On Offer ~~
There are a few things that Belton House estate has to offer that we simply could not visit, but I will mention them here as you may enjoy finding them out for yourselves.
From the leaflet it says you should not leave until you have found the Sundial made famous in Helen Creswell’s children’s book ‘Moondial’, I won’t say if we found it, part of the fun is discovering things for yourself.
There is also a miniature railway available on most days for a nominal extra charge.
Woodland walks and Lakeside walks are available, apart from being very pretty and worth a visit, the woodland also plays host to the largest children’s adventure playground in Lincolnshire. We did drive past this and it looked very impressive it should keep the children amused for hours.
The greyhound bus is there to help you get from area to area.
~~ A Little Bit Of History ~~
Belton House is a beautiful country house built by Sir John Brownlow (1659-97) in the mid to late 1680’s. Sadly he died relatively young after a shooting accident and did not get to enjoy this lovely house, which is still as beautiful today as it was then.
The country home set in 36 acres of land was passed down through the Brownlow family for over 300 yrs it then became the property of the Cust family who themselves were powerful landowners of their time. Today it is owned by the National Trust.
The Brownlow family also had links to the Royal family; the 6th Lord Brownlow was a close friend to King Edward VIII. During Edward’s abdication in 1936 Lord Brownlow accompanied Mrs Simpson to the South of France where he tried to persuade her to let the King go, but as history tells us, his gallant attempts failed and the King abdicated.
~~ Disabled Access Information ~~
As previously mentioned the disabled parking is only a few hundred yards from the main house and is limited, what I really liked about it was the fact that you were given a number to a designated spot.
There are disabled toilets provided, these are shared with mother and baby units as well. The shop and Restaurant are also accessible to wheelchair users.
The entrance to the house has 15 steps leading up to the main door. There is a stair climber to help you up the stairs and you can then borrow a wheelchair to get round the upper ground floor. They also offer a virtual tour so you can get to see the rooms you do not have access to.
They also offer a Powered Mobility Vehicle to borrow with a two hour time limit, this would be great to get around the grounds, don’t forget the Greyhound Bus ( which is an adapted golf buggy) takes visitors from the car park to the mansion, shop and restaurant.
On this leaflet is a map of the grounds showing you where the toilets, steps, good flat paths, paths with various surfaces and cobbled pathways.
If you are disabled this info leaflet is a must have.
~~ Prices and Opening Times ~~
House, grounds and adventure playground:
Adults - £ 8.00
Child - £ 4.50
Family - £22.50
Grounds and Adventure playground only:
Adults - £ 6.00
Child - £ 3.50
Family - £25.50
Winter grounds only (no adventure playground)
Adult - £2.00
Child - £1.00
Remember the Hidden England Passport if you have visited on of the other sites you get a bog off. (Don’t worry if you did not get it stamped as long as you have kept the receipt from a previous visit in the same year you can still get the bog off we did).
25 Mar – 29 Oct 2006
Open: Wednesday to Sunday 12.30 – 5.30pm
Garden/park (putting all the dates to give you and idea of yearly openings)
25 Mar – 30 Jul 2006 - Wed – Sun – 11.00am – 5.30pm
01 Aug – 31 Aug 2006 – Mon- Sun – 10.30am – 5.30pm
01 Sep – 29 Oct 2006 – Wed – Sun – 11.00am – 5.30pm
03 Nov – 17 Dec 2006 – Fri – Sun – 12.00 – 1600
04 Feb – 26 Feb 2007 – Sat – Sun – 12.00 – 1600
25 Mar – 30 Jul 2006 – Wed – Sun – 11.00 – 17.30
01 Aug – 31 Aug 2006 – Mon – Sun – 10.30 – 17.30
01 Sep – 29 Oct 2006 – Wed – Sun – 11.00 – 17.30
~~ Directions ~~
You can take the A1 then on to the A52 at Grantham, just outside Grantham onto the A607 to Belton House. (Hope that helps)
Finally I would highly recommend a visit here what ever your age there is something for everyone to enjoy both young and old. We enjoyed our visit and I hope you enjoy yours.
Thanks for reading
Summary: Beautiful house and gardens, a lovely family church, childrens activities, recommended