Art and Architecture
The Hall is filled with treasures collected and commissioned by the family over four centuries. The original Elizabethan carving and plasterwork still decorates many rooms, while there are some lovely examples of Georgian furniture and porcelain and many modern French and English paintings of the Impressionist Schools.
Marcus Wickham-Boynton, the previous owner of Burton Agnes Hall, started his collection of English and French paintings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in 1937 with the encouragement of two collector friends; Lord Ivor Spencer Churchill and the Right Hon. Harcourt 'Crinks' Johnstone. His appreciation of French Impressionists owed much to the influence of Samuel Courtauld. The directors of the Adams Gallery gave him much valuable advice and help in the choice of individual paintings.
The Long Gallery, which spans the length of the house on the third floor with panoramic views to Bridlington Bay, houses some of the most recent commissions including a tapestry by Kaffe Fassett, embroidery by Janet Haigh, furniture by John Makepeace, and our most recent commission, a stunning glass sculpture by Colin Reid.
Burton Agnes Hall is a magnificent example of Elizabethan architecture, built in 1598 by Sir Henry Griffith. 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 'spendid and glittering composition'.
The entrance front faces south, its symmetry retained by the device of putting the entrance door at the side of one of the projecting bays. Here, sash windows have been substituted at the centre but not in the three-storeyed 'compass' bays. The change from mullioned to sash windows shows more on the eastern side of the house, though the latter must be an improvement on the plate-glass variety installed in Victorian times. These were replaced with the present frames by Marcus Wickham-Boynton's mother. The eastern skyline of the Hall is romantically irregular and shows how the front of the house was built higher than the rear in order to accommodate the Long Gallery on the top floor. The Palladian windows at each end of the Gallery were eighteenth century additions, and the top floor Gallery itself was fully restored in 1974.