Off the beaten track, in the heart of East Yorkshire, there's a magnificent Elizabethan country house called Burton Constable Hall. I hadn't been there since 1969 when I attended an all night pop concert. It was held in the stable block where there is a vast covered space that once hosted a riding school. The headliners that night were The Nice with keyboard virtuoso Keith Emerson. I can still picture him now and hear his renditions of "I Want To Be in America" and the Intermezzo from Sibelius's Karelia Suite. Pure brilliance! Sadly Keith Emerson died on March 10th this year, a long way from his Yorkshire birthplace.
Anyway, last Sunday I was back with the wife. It was a lovely day yet there were few visitors. We toured the main house which had many stories to tell and had not been neatly manicured like a department store window display. It was a little jaded and dusty. It smelt vaguely of old soot but contained many fine artefacts - Chippendale furniture, oil paintings, chandeliers, gilded mirrors, busts and close to a cabinet of curiosities, I noticed a complete Etruscan vase just sitting on a mahogany desk. It was made around the year 350BC. I reached out to touch it very gently and there was nobody about to shout "No!" Quite amazing.
In the staircase hall we chatted with one of the stately home's volunteer guides - a man of eighty five called Harry who had worked as a farm labourer at Burton Constable all his life. He had the most lovely, authentic East Yorkshire accent I have heard in years and was a mine of information about the hall and its surrounds.
|Chair used by Queen Victoria when she visited Hull|
October 13th 1854
We walked in the grounds, visited the orangerie and the great lake created by the famous English landscape gardener Capability Brown. But we never reached the elusive great stag statue we had seen from the house. It was a great visit. If you would like to find out more about Burton Constable Hall and its rich history, please go to the estate's website.