Monday, June 15, 2015

Burton Constable, in the East Riding before Capability Brown

 Burton Constable, in the East Riding 

There is early evidence of formal gardens close to the house in a document of 1610, when the Dowager Lady Margaret Constable was given access to "two litle gardens adjoyneinge upon & lieing near unto the Northe Tower & one parcell of ground called North garth adjoyn. upon the aforesaid gardens."

In the 13C the Constables added their name to the manor of Burton (meaning settlement at a fortified dwelling). The lower part of the north tower, known as Stephen’s Tower, is the oldest part of the house that survives & had served to protect the village since the reign of King Stephen in the 12C. In the late 15C a new brick manor house was built at Burton Constable, eventually replacing Halsham as the family’s principal seat. Much of this was demolished in the 1560s when Sir John built "a new addition of a greater beauty." The new Elizabethan mansion at Burton Constable incorporated remains of the earlier manor house including the north lodgings wing & north tower, both of which were updated with new stone mullioned windows & mock quoins to match the new building.

A survey carried out in 1621 by William Senior of Hull indicates that by then the park was made up of a series of enclosures with the main entrance to the house from the east, approached by a walk or avenue. The ancient moat stretched around 2 sides of the hall, to the west there were three long narrow fishponds. 

 Detail Burton Constable, in the East Riding

An early painting shows a wall surmounted by urns, with a central entrance arch flanked by turrets enclosing formal gardens between the 2 east wings, with a secondary forecourt to the east with central gates and urns ranged along the top of the walls. 

Sir John’s transformation included the addition of a new range with a great hall, parlor & great chamber, together with a south wing that had another tower to harmonise with the surviving north tower. This south wing contained a kitchen, additional lodgings & a chapel. A turreted gatehouse & courtyards, together with a stable block adjacent to the north wing can be seen in the painting of the house that hangs in the Great Hall.

In 1715 considerable work was undertaken for William, 4th Viscount Dunbar in leveling land for new gardens. It seems likely that a lawn was created at this time on the west front, and to the north a grove containing a geometrical arrangement of paths.

The Entrance Front, Burton Constable George Barret the elder (1728-32–1784) 1777

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was commissioned from 1772-82 to landscape the gardens & parkland.