|Visit to Burnley Hall,
A privileged visit on the longest day of the
year, and what a lovely evening it was for thirty of us to
visit Burnley Hall in East Somerton. We car-shared
our way there and were greeted by our host, Clare (Lady
Once all were gathered, our Chairman, Noel Mitchell,
presented Peter Lavender and his wife Christine with a
card and a garden token, thanking Peter for all that he
has done for the history group, and wished them well in
their new home. We will miss them.
Ann Meakin then introduced us to our host for the
evening. Lady Agnew gave us a brief outline of what
we were about to see in her large home and extensive
gardens, the changes that have been made, and some history
of who used to live there. The Agnews have lived in
the Hall since 2004. The house is not normally open
to the public so we were lucky to have a private visit.
Into the house, up the grand staircase of this large
rambling Georgian home with so many rooms able to cater
for many guests. One room had five beds in it where
a school in Suffolk would come to stay to study
mathematics! Even the cellar was open to view for
those who were sure-footed.
Ann Meakin had told us about the interesting estate maps
to be seen on the staircase but it did not prepare us for
what we saw: several magnificent maps of East and West
Somerton and Winterton in the early 1800s. The maps
were hand painted and showed the estates before and after
the Enclosures. The maps were in their original
wooden casings with cords enabling them to be pulled down
for viewing. Apparently, when these maps were
printed, three copies were made. We were looking at
the set of maps given to the Lord of the Manor at Burnley
The Hall has an abundance of high bookshelves, some on the
broad staircases which themselves sometimes creaked in a
suitable manner, whilst behind the scenes we experienced
the steep, winding and narrow servants' stairs.
Our last room to visit was the one-time billiard room, now
turned into a large and high-ceilinged kitchen, where we
enjoyed a cup of tea and biscuits. Once refreshed it
was out into the grounds to see the old stables, no longer
in use. Apparently, there are old fireplaces in the
room spaces above where presumably the stable boys used to
live. The nearby dovecote was amazingly large - room
for three or four people, but no doves were at home.
Those of us who weren't flagging were able to go through
another gate to visit the ruins of the church, where a
large tree is growing up in its centre - many stories
abound regarding the origins of the tree - who knows!
Members considered it a very enjoyable evening. I
think so too.