This past weekend we made a tour across the border into England to visit old friends in Northamptonshire. Following short debate the decisions made to make use of our National Trust Membership and visit Belton House. Just outside Grantham, Lincolnshire is a perfect looking house surrounded by a woodland park, which with the autumn colours and blue sky created a magical feel. This was enhanced further by kids dressed up in Halloween Costumes ranging far and wide across the park looking for clues to their treasure hunt.
For three hundred years, Belton House was the seat of the Brownlow and Cust family, who had first acquired land in the area in the late 16th century. Between 1685 and 1688 Sir John Brownlow and his wife had the present mansion built. Like any house that is this old, it has been altered inside and out, but perhaps less so than others.
Over the years the family rose through the ranks of the aristocracy from Baronet, through Barons and onto becoming Earls. But lost the rank when one of them died without a direct heir.
At the beginning of World War I, like many other British landowners, the 3rd Earl Brownlow offered his house and park to the Government for war service. In 1915, the home depôt and training ground of the Machine Gun Corps were established in the southern part of Belton park. The stables now holds an exhibition of the the training and experiences of the soldiers that received their training here. Now there is nothing left to be seen of the barracks.
In the 1920’s the Brownlows, like many of the the large landowners int eh UK were faced with mounting financial problems. Eventually to avoid death duties in 1984 they gave the house away—complete with most of its contents to the National Trust.