Belvoir Castle: A Family Home for 1000 Years
Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire is the home of the Dukes of Rutland whose ancestors have lived there for nearly a 1000 years. Since 1066, when William the Conqueror gave the land to one of his barons, the castle has been built and rebuilt four times. It emerged in the early 1800s as one of the most magnificent Regency houses in England. Starting with the 5th Duchess, Lady Elizabeth Howard, who transformed Belvoir with the help of architect James Wyatt, all of the castle’s chatelaines have left their personal stamp.
The 11th Duchess, Emma Manners, has left her mark on the estate by preserving and restoring the Castle’s interior and exterior. In 2015, after discovering Capability Brown’s 235-year-old unrealized plans for Belvoir, she began to create Brown’s lost landscape, including his Pleasure Grounds – with formal terraces, woodland and spring gardens. Her Grace’s lecture will feature some of the 36 generations who have lived at Belvoir and describe their failures as well as their triumphs. She will give an illustrated tour of some of the house’s stunning interiors including the Private Apartments. Each space has its own treasures: from Neoclassical decoration to the splendid Regency furniture, and from glorious paintings by Reynolds and Poussin to the first Duke of Wellington’s bedroom (a friend of the family).
The Duchess also will talk about modern living at the castle and describe how she is ensuring the Castle’s survival into the 21st century. A thoroughly modern duchess, she is a keen business woman, as well as a homeowner. The Duchess has opened up Belvoir to filming—it serves onscreen as Windsor Castle in The Crown—created rental properties on the estate, and recently transformed c. 1850s outbuildings into retail establishment highlighting licensed bespoke products. On any given day she can be found examining the rooftops from scaffolding, in her office planning events, rummaging through forgotten basement corners, and always thinking ahead to her next project!
Thank you to our co-sponsor: The Boston Athenaeum