Burghley House

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are major building remains

NameBurghley House
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough
Modern AuthorityPeterborough; City of
1974 AuthorityCambridgeshire
Civil ParishSt Martin's Without

Circa 1555 to circa 1587. One of the largest of the Elizabethan mansions. An earlier house on the site with remains of St Michaels Priory, incorporated in the present house, came into the possession of Richard Cecil between 1508 and 1528. Richard Cecil's son William Cecil Lord Burghley built the mansion. Built of Barnack stone. The hall with double hammer beam roof and the vaulted kitchen are the earliest parts and form the east side. The rest of the house is built around the other 3 sides of a rectangular courtyard. Three storeys, at the corners 3 storey and attic square towers with octagonal turrets with ogee cupolas. (Listed Building Report)

Burghley House was built by William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I. It was begun about 1556 and completed

in 1587, although work stopped between 1564 and 1577. It comprises four wings of three storeys around an open court and is built of Barnack rag-stone. It is built on the site of an earlier house of early 16th century date which occupied what is now the east side of the inner court and "no doubt some of its walls still remain incorporated in the present building" (PastScape ref. VCH)

Burghley clothes its architectural ancestry in castle design beneath an impressive veneer of classical detailing: its battlements dissolve into rich ornament (Goodall, p. 458)

Gatehouse Comments

Goodall's definition of 'castle' is, perhaps, somewhat broader than many people would be happy with. Included in Gatehouse as a fortified manor house where fortified is used to mean a style of architecture owing something to military considerations although at Burghley these debts are expressed in stylised symbolic ways. NB. The house staddles the boundary between the parishes of Barnack and St Martins Without. In is listed as in St Martin's Without although the greater part of the house is in Barnack, most of the park is in St Martin's Without CP. It is very close to the Lincolnshire county boundary and the town of Stamford, Linconshire and is sometimes recorded as in that county or as by that town.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTF048060
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Calculate Print


  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 457, 458
  • Medleycot, M., 2011, Research and Archaeology Revisited: A Revised Framework For The East Of England (East Anglian Archaeology Occasional Papers 24) p. 76
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus revised Cherry, Bridget, 1973, The Buildings of England: Northamptonshire p. 122
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1968, Bedfordshire and the County of Huntingdon and Peterborough p. 217-25
  • Serjeantson, R.M., Ryland, W. and Adkins, D. (eds),1906, VCH Northamptonshire Vol. 2 p. 523-6 (tenurial history) online copy


  • Dugdale, Wm (Caley, J., Ellis, H. and Bandinel, B. (eds)), 1817-30 (originally pub. 1655-73), Monasticon Anglicanum (London) Vol. 4 p. 257-66 online copy


  • 1975 Oct 16, Country Life, Vol. 158
  • 1953 Dec 3, Country Life Vol. 114
  • Gotch, J.A., 1899, 'Burghley House' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 5 (new series) p. 243-52 online copy

Guide Books

  • Leatham, Lady Victoria, 2000 (3edn), Great Houses of Britain. Burghley House (Heritage House Group)
  • Charlton, Rev W.H., 1847, Guide to Burghley House