- The villages around Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -
THE GRANDEST stately home in Lincolnshire can be found four miles north west of Bourne. Grimsthorpe Castle dates back to the 12th century and in 1516, Henry VIII granted the manor to the 10th Baron Willoughby de Eresby on his marriage to Maria de Salinas, kinswoman and lady-in-waiting to the Queen, Catherine of Aragon and it is still the home of the de Eresby family today.
The castle is a mix of architectural styles, having been extensively altered during the 18th century by Sir John Vanbrugh, who embraced the concepts of mediaeval decorativeness and neo-gothic design. The North Front was his last work and was commissioned in 1715 by his friend Robert Bertie, the 16th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, to celebrate his enoblement as the first Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven.
The oldest part of the building is the south-east corner of the castle called King John's Tower which dates back to 1199-1216 while the parkland was landscaped by Capability Brown in 1771. The formal flower and topiary garden leads imperceptibly into a woodland area and provides a fine setting for the ornamental vegetable garden and orchard, created in the 1960s by the Countess of Ancaster and John Fowler.
The early history of the house is connected with the Cistercian Abbey of Vaudy, founded in 1147, which once stood to the south of the lake and the castle built in the late 13th century by Gilbert de Gant, and monks from the monastery are believed to be buried in the churchyard at nearby Creeton.
The main state rooms and the chapel, all furnished with many objects of rare, artistic and historical interest, including coronation robes, chairs and canopies of George I-IV and Queen Victoria, are open to view. Paintings by Van Dyck, Holbein and Reynolds are among the most notable pictures together with the Auwerx tapestries in the state dining room. The collection of fine furniture associated with the Willoughby de Eresby's hereditary office as Lord Great Chamberlain to the Palace of Westminster, including thrones and furnishings from the old House of Lords, can be seen in the suite of state rooms along with family portraits and those of the monarchs they served.
Grimsthorpe has been the location for several major television productions and is a popular place with visitors. The castle is the centrepiece of a 3,000 acre park of rolling pastures, landscaped lakes and historic woodland and the mediaeval deer park and Tudor oak park are crossed by fine avenues of trees that are a haven for wild life.