Boughton House

Boughton House

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Boughton House is a remarkable French-influenced 17th-century English country mansion in Northamptonshire, whose stunning state rooms and picturesque gardens are now periodically open for visitors to explore.

Boughton House history

Though a monastic building existed on the site of Boughton House in the Middle Ages, most of what can be seen today was constructed in the late 17th century by Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu. Previously serving as English ambassador to France, the influence of his time in the country can be seen in the house’s architecture, reminiscent of the styles of great French palaces such as Versailles. As such, Boughton House has often been dubbed ‘The English Versailles’.

The 2nd Duke of Montagu changed little when he inherited Boughton, except to the landscape and gardens in which he added avenues of elms, sculptural earth forms, and many water features. His role in the gardens earned him the nickname ‘John the Planter’.

After the 2nd Duke’s death, the Dukedom of Montagu became extinct for nearly 2 centuries, as Boughton House passed through the family’s female lines. As each of these woman were married into family’s whose main residences were elsewhere, Boughton largely sat dormant, before in the 20th century once more becoming the home of a Montagu descendant – the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry.

Boughton House today

Though still a private charity-run estate and family home, Boughton is open to visitors in Spring and Summer, and boasts impressive baroque state rooms – considered to be some of the best-preserved in Britain! A grand collection of art, antiques and furniture also feature at Boughton, including paintings by Gainsborough, Van Dyck, El Greco and John Wootton.

Visitors can also enjoy the formal gardens and parkland of the estate, featuring a Sensory Garden, Rose Garden, and ancient Lily Pond, alongside a picturesque series of waterways, lakes and reflecting pools. Both peaceful and awe-inspiring, Boughton House provides an eclectic visit to one of Britain’s most magnificent 17th-century manor houses, in a fascinating blend of British and French design.

Getting to Boughton House

Boughton House is located 3 miles north of Kettering in Northamptonshire off the A43, with parking available at the site. Buses and trains both run into Kettering, from which a taxi can be taken the remaining 3 miles to the site.

A fortified manor house was built on the site in the 1340s by Robert Corbie. Through the marriage of his grand daughter Joan to Nicholas Wotton, Lord Mayor of London in 1415 and 1430, the house became the property of the Wotton family. The Wottons retained ownership of the house until it passed into the Stanhope family in 1683 when it was willed by Charles Kirkhoven, 1st Baron Wotton to Charles Stanhope, younger son of his half brother Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield. Charles Stanhope changed his name to Wotton and on his death in 1704, the house passed to his elder brother Philip Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Chesterfield. The fourth earl sold the house in 1750 to Galfridus Mann, twin brother of Sir Horace Mann of nearby Linton Hall in Linton. On Galfridus Mann's death, it passed to his son Sir Horatio Mann MP, who also inherited his uncle's baronetcy and Linton Hall in 1786. [2] [3]

In 1771, Sir Horatio's sister Catherine married James Cornwallis. Cornwallis later became Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry and was briefly the 4th Earl Cornwallis. His son, James Mann, 5th Earl Cornwallis, inherited Boughton Place and it remained in the Cornwallis family until it was sold by Fiennes Cornwallis, 1st Baron Cornwallis to John Kitchin in 1922. [4]

The house is the remaining part of a larger courtyard house, much of which has been demolished. [1] [5] The first part was constructed in the 1520s and was added to and enlarged in the 1550s and 1580s and alterations were made in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is a two-storey building aligned roughly north-south with an attic floor in the roof. It is built mostly of local rag-stone with a tiled roof and stone framed windows in a variety of sizes, but also has later sections constructed of red brick. The interior features some 16th-century moulded plaster ceilings, but historic timber panelling dating from the 1520s was removed from the house in 1923 and taken to the United States. [1] [5] [note 1]

The house is a Grade I listed building and an adjacent cottage and oast house are listed Grade II. [1] [6] [7]

Boughton House - History

Spital Boughton's Litany of Death and Martyrdom

by Tony Cummings with photographs and many additions by Steve Howe

To start this morbid story at the beginning, one must return to the early 12th century when was established, on or near what we still call The Mount, a leper hospital, the Sigillum Infirmorum De Cestrie, and chapel dedicated to St. Giles (the patron saint of cripples and lepers)- and, for those whose treatment proved less than efficacious, an adjacent graveyard. Subsequently, they were both used to give succour to, and then to bury, the victims of the great plagues of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Said to have been founded by Ranulph II, Earl of Chester, the hospital survived for nearly 500 years, caring first for lepers and then for the sick of Chester until it was totally destroyed during the English Civil War. It stood on the southern side of Christleton Road behind West Mount. The site, in a disused graveyard, was marked by an inscription in 1935.

In addition to the benefits provided by the Earl, the hospital came to possess land and rents in and near Chester, some of which came with new inmates. For example land in Eastgate Street was given by the relatives of Yseult, who, "smitten by the scourge of a visitation from on high", had been admitted to the hospital.

When Henry III annexed the earldom of Chester after 1237 he was a generous patron of the hospital. He also allowed the lepers a tithe of the expenses of the royal household at Chester, allegedly in continuation of a grant by the earls of Chester.

On his accession, Edward I reduced alms to the hospital to the customary payment of 20 shillings a year.

Left: This ornate building of 1900 by the prolific Chester architect John Douglas stands on the site of the ancient Boughton Chapel- demolished during the Civil War- and at the junction of two Roman roads. Among the buildings cleared to make way for it was a pub by the name of The Oddfellow's Arms (see The Vanished Pubs of Boughton).

This photograph dates from around 1910 but, except that the area is now besieged by heavy traffic, the view remains substantially the same today. The handsome building currently houses, of all things, a garage door manufacturer's showroom.

There were few signs of royal favour or interest in the 14th century apart from the regular confirmation of the privileges of the hospital and a grant of £3 6s 8d by the Black Prince in 1353.

The relations of the hospital with the citizens of Chester and the monks of St. Werburgh's Abbey were not always happy. Around 1300 the masters were involved in legal disputes concerning detention of rents, tolls or alms, the Dee fishery, and usury. The tolls claimed by the hospital on all victuals bought for sale in Chester were particularly resented by the tenants of the abbey. The privilege of collecting these tolls was threatened in 1537 when the city authorities pointed out that, whereas it had originally been granted to relieve the sick, the inmates of the hospital were by then "able-bodied"and it was ordered that admissions should be confined to the sick of the city of Chester on penalty of loss of the market tolls.

By the 16th century the inmates evidently lived in individual houses and kept animals on the land around the hospital. In 1537 they were forbidden to wash food or clothes in the newly built conduit at Boughton (which transported water from the Boughton springs to the town and abbey) and were ordered to prevent their animals damaging the conduit and to see that the pipes were properly covered.

The hospital escaped Dissolution under Henry VIII's Act of 1547, probably because of its charitable activities.

By the early 17th century the cottages which made up the hospital seem to have become heritable properties. In 1606 the seven inmates, six men and one woman, agreed not to receive vagabonds and beggars into their houses, to ring their swine, and to fence the hospital lands. In 1619 the right of the brothers and sisters of the hospital to be free of the payment of pannage, pontage and murage was confirmed.

Right: many fine houses now line the banks of the River Dee at Boughton

The hospital of St. Giles did not survive the English Civil War. During the seige of Chester the defending Royalist forces implemented a scorched earth policy around the city as Parliamentary troops advanced and the hospital was one of the victims. On to July 1643 the Chester garrison set fire to the hospital barns and pulled down the houses and "the old chapel of Spital Boughton with the stone barn next to it".

The displaced inmates complained to the mayor that while they were helping to defend the besieged city the soldiers destroyed their houses and plundered their possessions.

When hostile forces reached Spital Boughton in February, 1644 and constructed entrenched positions, the defending Royalists launched a gallant, but almost suicidal, attack upon them. About a hundred Royalists perished and were buried in St Giles's Graveyard as the Roundheads retreated to regroup.

The enemy returned in September to find the Royalists had, understandably but illogically, spared the high tower of St. John's Church from their policy to deprive their opponents of commanding positions. Four artillery batteries were mounted, one in the church tower and the others on similar elevated vantage points on The Mount, and proceeded to rain down their deadly lead into the walled city of Chester.

In 1657 the master retrieved one of the bells that had been plundered from the hospital chapel from the Pentice (the forefrunner of the Town Hall, situated next to St. Peter's Church) but it was never re-hung in a new hospital and in 1660 the restored Charles II granted to the mayor and citizens of Chester all the lands of "the hospital or late hospital of Boughton, otherwise Spittle Boughton"as a burial ground. Although the graveyard itself lay outside Chester's boundaries, the king presumably granted it to the city because so many Royalist soldiers were buried there. The last interrment took place here in 1854.

While on military matters, one must not fail to mention the Chester Shot Tower , built in 1799, standing only a few hundred yards away across the Shropshire Union Canal. This was one of only three such towers built to manufacture musket shot for the Napoleonic Wars and might, therefore, have been instrumental in the deaths of many French soldiers.

Right next to St Giles's Hospital and cemetery stood the infamous Gallows Hill (now known as 'Barrel Well Hill'). There, countless criminals were executed, their last view of life being that of the fair River Dee far below and the Meadows beyond. Here we will only concern ourselves with its five most contentious victims - a disparate combination of three "witches" and two priests.

On March 31, 1656, the trial of two of the alleged witches was held in the Commonhall of Pleas, Chester. Ellen Beach was charged with having "consulted and covenanted with, entertayned, imployed, ffed and rewarded certayn evill and wicked spirits" to cause the death of one Elizabeth Cowper.

Anne Osboston faced a similar charge of bringing about the deaths of Barbara Pott, then her husband John, "a yeoman," and finally Anthony Booth, "a gentleman."

Seen from the Chester Meadows on the far bank of the River Dee, the lovely 19th century St. Paul's Church, Boughton now dominates old Gallows Hill

At the following October Sessions Anne Thornton was charged with practising "divellish and wicked acts" to bring about the demise of the three-year-old son of Ralphe Frinchett, of Eccleston. Despite their pleas of innocence all three were found guilty and hanged at Gallows Hill on October 15th 1656.

Common criminals met their end at Boughton in great numbers over the centuries. From the Chester Chronicle, 7th October 1791: "To-morrow is the appointed day for the execution of Joseph Allen, alias Booth, alias Old Joe David Aston, alias Davies and William Knock, alias Big Joe, alias Walton, for burglary. A new temporary gallows is made for the melancholy occasion, which is intended to be placed opposite the old tree in Boughton, near this city."

The following extract, from a letter dated Chester, September 7th 1771, appeared in the Annual Register for that year :&mdash

"The following is an account of John Chapman, who was executed here for robbing Martha Hewitt, of this county. At the hour appointed he was conducted to the place of execution by a greater number of constables than usual, as there was some suspicion of a rescue by the vast concourse of sailors (he being one of that profession) that accompanied him.
On his setting out, a book was put into his hand by the hangman, which he no sooner received than he threw among his brother shipmates, as he termed them and they immediately tore it to pieces.
A clergyman then got into the cart, and exhorted him to behave with more decency, and to think of his sudden change but instead of attending to this admonition, he got up in the cart, and (being pinioned) drove his head in the clergyman's belly, and tumbled him out of the cart. After this he flung himself out, and attempted to run into the midst of the sailors, but was prevented by the irons with which he was loaded. He was then seized and tied by ropes in the cart, and in that manner was tied to the fatal tree. At his arrival there he refused either to hear prayers or to pray himself therefore two men, together with the hangman, attempted to lift him up, to fix the rope about his neck, in doing of which, he by some means got the hangman's thumb in his mouth, which he almost separated from the hand: he was at last tied up, but with great difficulty."

Besides the Gallows, there was a whipping post, of which it is told that one evening in January 1792, "some daring offenders, not having the fear of the magistracy before their eyes, stript the Whipping Post in Boughton of its furniture, and left it as naked as the backs of the culprits are likely to be in case of detection."

This Whipping Post, though, was not always ussd for that purpose, the place of punishment being changeable for "at the Quarter Sessions for this city in June 1778, Thomas Griffith was found guilty of maliciously breaking and throwing down a rail belonging to the Canal Company, and was ordered to be whipped from the Northgate to Cow-lane Bridge" and on Saturday, April 16th 1791, a man, convicted at the Sessions for milking a cow and stealing the milk, was publicly whipped through the streets of the city.

At what date the punishment of burning at the stake for murder was abolished by statute I am unable to state with any certainty, but the last instance in Chester occurred when Mary Heald, a Quakeress, suffered that extreme penalty of the law for the murder of her husband. The long-defunct Chester Courant for October, 1762 recorded that "Mary Heald, of Mere, charged upon oath of having poisoned Samuel Heald, her husband, was committed to Chester Castle, by George Heron, Esq on the 23rd of October, 1762."

Right: a view of Chester from Boughton c.1810.

The affair created intense local interest and hundreds of persons, through the winter of 1762, sought and obtained permission to visit the dungeon in our old Castle in which the unhappy woman was confined, the gaolers taking large amounts as largesse for permitting the wretched exhibition. This went on, winked at by the authorities, until the Easter of 1763, when the County Assizes commenced at the Castle. The Courant again:
" Chester, April 19th 1763. Last week ended the assize here, when Mary Heald, widow of Samuel Heald, late of Mere, near Knutsford, in this county, yeoman (both of the people called Quakers), was convicted of Petit Treason, in killing her said husband, after twenty years cohabitation by giving him a certain quantity of arsenick, in a mess of fleetings, on the nineteenth day of October last: of which poison he died, in about four days after taking the same. For which crime she was condemned to be burned, on the day after sentence but upon application to the judges, they were pleased to respite her execution until Saturday, the 23'd of this instant."

Doubtlessly in this interval of four days efforts were made to try and save the life of the convict but if so, and whatever they were, they failed: for on the Market Day following, the two Sheriffs of Chester City had most uncongenial work upon their hands, as the following paragraph from the Courant gravely assured us:&mdash
"Chester, April 26th. In our last issue were mention'd the trial and condemnation of Mary Heald as also, that the judges had been pleased to respite her execution until Saturday, the 23'd inst. Accordingly, soon after ten of the clock in the forenoon of that day, the sheriffs of Chester, with their attendants, came to Gloverstone [neutral ground between City and Castle, just outside the latter's main gate], where the gaoler of the Castle deliver'd to them the said Mary Heald who, pursuant to sentence, was drawn from thence in a sledge, through the city to Spital Boughton where after due time having been allowed for her private
devotion, she was affixed to a stake, on the north side of the great road, almost opposite to the gallows: and having been first strangled, faggots, pitch barrels, and other combustibles, were properly placed all around her, and the fire being lighted up, her body was consumed to ashes. This unhappy woman behaved with much decency, and left an authentick written declaration, confessing her crime and expressing much penitence and contrition&rdquo.

Now to the luckless, but unrepentant clerics. When the spread of Lutheran protest was gaining momentum on the continent in the 16th century, and encroaching across the Channel, George Cotes, only the second Bishop of Chester, became a self-appointed, vigorous defender of the established faith. It came to his notice, in 1555, that a clergyman in Lancaster, one George Marsh, was preaching Luther's doctrine. Marsh, a 40-year-old widower with children, was summoned to Chester. There, in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral, which was then used as the Consistory Court of the Diocese, he was charged with having "preached and openly published most heretically and blasphemously. directly against Pope's authority and the Catholic Church of Rome." He was condemned to death and led through the streets of Chester on his way to Spital Boughton, reading his Bible. There, on Gallows Hill, he was burned at the stake, his immolation (by all accounts an inefficient and drawn-out affair, the fire being "mismanaged") being officially witnessed by the Sheriff of Chester. He was buried in St Giles' Cemetery or, as the Official History of Chester more graphically puts it, "in it are deposited such of the ashes of the martyr, George Marsh, as could be collected".

After the Reformation, of course, the boot was on the other foot. In 1674 the Government instructed Chester's Justices of the Peace to "encourage and quicken the convictions of popish recusants in the city." From what one can gather this was pursued with an only token enthusiasm. That is, until Titus Oats' 'Popish Plot' burst upon the scene in 1678. Oats was a novice monk who had been rejected as unsuitable from a Jesuit monastery. In revenge he contacted influential Protestants in London and, with their aid, spread the rumour that the Jesuits were plotting to assassinate King Charles II. A nationwide panic ensued, followed by a pogrom against the Catholics.

The aftermath in Chester was the arrest of John Plessington, a practicing Catholic priest. He was tried and found guilty of High Treason, on account of his priesthood.
Taken to Gallows Hill on July 19th 1679, he was allowed to make a speech. Defiantly he declared: "But I know it will be said that a priest ordayned by authority derived from the See of Rome is, by the Law of the Nation, to die as a Traytor, but if that be so what must become of all the Clergymen of the Church of England, for the first Protestant Bishops had their Ordination from those of the Church of Rome, or not at all, as appears by their own writers so that Ordination comes derivatively from those now living."
To the dispassionate observer this may have seemed to have a certain logic. But, if so, it was lost on his executioners and the unfortunate cleric was hanged, drawn and quartered.

This most horrible and barbaric of punishments prevailed for hundreds of years in England for the most serious of crimes- most notably High Treason. It involved the unfortunate criminal being dragged around the town, and from there to the place of execution on a wooden sledge or pallet, being there hung for a short period, but cut down while still conscious, then having his private parts cut off and burned before his eyes, followed by his belly being slit open and his bowels similarly burned. Trouble was taken to ensure the victim remained conscious and observant throughout the process, which was witnessed by large crowds. Finally, he was beheaded and his torso roughly chopped into four pieces which, together with his head, would be publicly displayed- after being sprinkled with certain spices to prevent the birds pecking at it- in prominent positions around the town, such as upon the city gates- or even in different cities throughout the country.

There the tale of such copious bloodshed might have finished, had it not been for a lengthy footnote added by one Nessie Brown, who decided in 1898 to erect a memorial to George Marsh on Gallows Hill. Once the news had spread a furore ensued. There was a considerable number of Catholics in the city and they staged a series of vehement protests. To their aid came a Mr J. W. Carter, a member of the City Council, who owned the (recently-demolished) Royalty Theatre in City Road. In those days pantomimes were not solely for the innocent entertainment of young children, but were also used as vehicles for the public airing of local political satire. Thus, in his Xmas pantomime he included the following,

Despite all the hostile feeling engendered, the erection of the memorial received the sanction of the City Council, and one of the inscriptions carved on it, which can still be seen, is the name of the mayor in 1898, Dr Henry Stolforth. The base of the frontispiece states that George Marsh was buried a martyr, "who was burned for the truth's sake April 24th 1555." On the memorial itself is engraved, "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God."

Right: a tram travels through Boughton on a snowy day in 1904

A more harmonious end to the tale was added as recently as 1980 when the memorial was temporarily taken down to allow for the adjacent road to be widened. During this interlude it was taken to stonemasons to be renovated, and the suggestion was made that Plessington's name should be appended to it, as both had been martyred on Gallows Hill for their respective faiths.
The City Council gave its consent, as did Stephen Brown, nephew of the donor, Nessie Brown. Restored to its original site, the plinth now bears the inscription "John Plessington Catholic Priest, martyred here on 19th July 1679. Canonised Saint 25th October 1970."

At long last the religious acrimony has been buried, along with all those departed souls, whether stricken, courageous, innocent or guilty, and now largely forgotten.
Requiesent in pace.

Boughton is available to host exclusive corporate and private events.

We are delighted to offer a variety of event spaces to choose from, whether you are looking to host a team building day, conference, meeting or incentive dinner. Our experienced team is here to help you enjoy the planning process as much as the event itself.

We have a purpose-built hospitality suite in the beautiful converted 18th-century stableyard. Blending original features with a contemporary style with full AV equipment and an adjacent bar/break out space. It is accessed via a flexible reception space which can also be used as a production office or small meeting space. A second small meeting room on the first floor with its own kitchen is also a useful green room for performing artists or visiting speakers.

A variety of individual exterior event spaces offer the opportunity for you to host different activities in several locations on the day of your event. 500 acres of grade 1 listed gardens and landscape within 11,000 acres of carefully managed estate offer unique event opportunities.

Dedicated hard standing parking for 100 cars and two coaches, with additional grass parking available if required. Tours or viewings of the House can included as part of your event.

Please check the website for further information, admission times and details about special events.

April & 25 May: free-flow ground floor only.

August: noon to 5pm, gardens and Great Hall tours only.

See website for details.

Historic Houses members visit for free when choosing one of our main tours, the gardens and exhibition. This does not include entry outside normal opening times or during events. Historic Houses members should book using the online booking system and choose the Free Entry option. They should then enter their HH membership number and bring their card with them.

House and Gardens
Adults: u00a311, Children 5-15 years: u00a38, Under 5s: free

Gardens Only
Adults: u00a36, Children 5-15 years: u00a33, Under 5s: free ">,<"title":"Group Visits","icon":"ki-group-visits","body":"

A variety of group tours are available at Boughton House and cater to a range of interests.

We understand that every group is different, so we aim to make your visit as enjoyable as possible by tailoring your tour to suit your requirements.

We welcome groups to the House and gardens all year round for pre-booked tours.

All group tours should be pre-booked to avoid disappointment.

  • Access statement available
  • Accessible toilets
  • Accessible parking
  • Guide dogs welcome ">]'>

Where History Lives

When I was a reporter for the News Herald, I researched and wrote about much of Burton's intriguing history. On this page, you will find a synopsis of that info, including Century Village, haunted houses, trivia tidbits, the world's only municipal sugar camp, and much more.

Are you looking for a unique place to visit?

We have an antique/coffee shop, loads of specialty stores, a flower shop like you have never seen, an old-fashioned hardware store, artistic undertakings and even a gun shop. And, if you want to stay longer than a day, we even have a Bed and Breakfast. And be sure to worship with us at Burton Congregational Church on Sundays. It's a beautiful old church with a wonderful minister and a great group of people to worship with. Stay afterwards and join us for coffee and refreshments in the fellowship hall. We would love to meet you.


Burton's Square

Ye Old Homestead Inn/Burton Fox Inn

The Opera House/Fire Station

Umberfield Tavern/Belle's Restaurant

Century Village

The first thing you might notice, especially if you visit in the early spring, is the log cabin on the Village square. It was built in 1931 with the cooperation of the Burton Chamber of Commerce. It still operates today and is the only municipal sugar camp in the world. Every year in March thousands of people come from around the State to sample the homemade syrup served with pancakes and sausage.

In March pancakes are served at the Burton Fire Station, Berkshire High School, The Burton Fox Inn, Joels, and Century Village. In the end of February and beginning of April, pancakes are served at the American Legion Post.

Also on the square, you will notice the water tower which sits at the north end. It was built in 1926 at a cost of $13,000. It is 102 ft. high and used for storage purposes only. It replaced a wooden tower which was built in 1909 for $448.

A cannon on the square has been used officially and unofficially. It was unofficially fired by two local young men in 1909.

At that time a trolley that ran from Burton to East Ninth Street in Cleveland. The men were returning around midnight and having just left the big city, were struck by the quietness of their home town.

They went to a nearby quarry, borrowed some blasting powder, caps and a long length of fuse. When the night watchman (yes, we actually had a night watchman) was lured to another part of the Village, they assembled all the necessary firing equipment, packed it all in, rammed it down with a baseball bat and lighted the fuse.

They jumped on their horses and were half way home to south Burton before the sound of cannon fire shattered the quiet, peaceful night.


Ye Olde Homestead Inn/Burton Fox Inn on the southwest corner of the square was at one time a thriving restaurant and boarding house. In it's day, it served as a rooming house, restaurant, post office and dry goods store.

The legend began in 1832 when James and Julia Peffers bought 5 acres on the southwest corner of the square from Eleazer Hickox for $83.00. The homestead was built on part of an 8 acre plot valued in 1828 at $115.

It belonged to the Peffers, who had a daughter, Lucy. Lucy married William Russell and the next six generations of Russell family retained ownership of the building.

It was Berkshire High School's retired history teacher, Charlie Caputo who in the fall of 1960 came from the city to live in the country, moved into one of the rooms. He looked out his window one evening and thought, "These country people really know how to build a bonfire." What he didn't know is that he was witnessing the original sugar camp on the square burning to the ground.

He also remembers the "things that go bump in the night," at the Inn. "It's supposed to be haunted by a little boy named, Charlie, who must have died in the house. Millie Russell told me that the house was haunted , a gentle haunt, a good haunt, not an evil spirit. They heard a lot of sounds and things that they couldn't account for." Caputo did find a grave marker of some sort in the yard with a little boy on it

In 1974 the Russell family sold the old estate to Bill and Joanne George who used it as a rental property for a short time and remodeled it into a restaurant. It has had two owners since that time.

Joanne remembered renters who complained about the noises. "One woman renter complained about noises, but could never find anything. There is also a story that Mrs. Russell had a boarder who didn't use the bank and hid his money there."

Currently, it belongs to Charles Imars. The upper level is used as a bar/restaurant five nights a week. The downstairs doubles as an ice cream shop and antique shop.


The Opera House or Town Hall located on the northwest corner of the square was built in 1881 for $6,500.

Singing schools, drama club meetings, high school graduations, town caucuses, political meetings, rallies, voting and theatrical entertainment ranging from operas to one-act plays were all held in this building.

In later years, silent movies were shown there. Dee White remembers that there was a woman in the building who would play the piano. She was four years old at the time and remembers that stopped and then started showing the movies again when she was a senior in high school. She most remembers the movie, Dracula.

In 1926 the Burton Volunteer Fire Department was organized. It was in the basement of the building and the trucks were driven up on concrete ramps. The jail was also housed in this building.

In 1953 the State building inspectors condemned the building for public gatherings. A bond issue was passed and extensive remodeling was done and the building was used for the trustees and the fire department.

In the 1980's, thanks to a generous inheritance left to the fire department by its first chief, Ray Linton, the department was able to purchase the building. The last expansion was completed in 1990 when two bays were added to the back of the building. Now, in the year 2003, the Fire Department has outgrown the building and is tossing around the idea of building a new fire station elsewhere. The current building would be a perfect building for the Burton Village offices.

UMBERFIELD TAVERN/BELLE'S COLONIAL RESTAURANT Belle's Colonial Restaurant is Burton's real-life version of "Cheers." No one who walks through the door more than twice is a stranger for very long.

It's rich tradition dates back to 1798 when Umberfield Tavern was located on the same site at Belles. Ironically, it was the gathering place for local residents. The tavern burned down in 1843 allegedly by someone who had a grudge against a man who kept his carriage in the barn.

Two years later, the Exchange Hotel took it's place. It was a stage coach stop where the mail coaches exchanged horses. It was subsequently used as a boarding house for students attending Burton Academy and a hotel again.

The hotel was condemned in 1942 and torn down. In the mid-40's Ellen B. Hosmer opened a small restaurant which was later bought by Lillie Belle Kennedy and became "Belles Colonial Restaurant."

Joan Pulling, who along with her husband, George, has operated it since 1974, said at least one person wonders if some of those people from Umberfield's are not still there. Her brother, Ken, lived upstairs for a time and told Joan that it sounded like there were people walking around in the restaurant during the night. The restaurant has had many owners since that time - they have come and gone, succeeded and failed. However, last heard, the Pullings have regained or retained ownership of the restaurant and it seems to be doing a thriving restaurant once again.

Century Village located in the center of Burton is a myriad of historical information. It all began in 1798 when the Umberfield family came to Burton from Connecticut.

One of their children, Stella, married Eleazer Hiscox and in 1838 they built the home that now serves as the main museum on the grounds of Century Village.

Stella was a very resourceful woman. In those days there were no nursing homes to put one's parents into when they were in ill health. They either stayed alone or moved in with their children. Stella's mother died and her father became blind and had many other problems.

She wanted her father to move into her home with her family, but he refused to leave his log cabin. She and Eleazer solved the problem when they dismantled his house and in 1849 moved the entire house to the Hiscox house and attached it to the side porch.

If you take a tour of the village, beginning in the Hiscox house, the tour guide will, not only tell you about the houses, but some interesting original tidbits.


Ever wonder about that phrase? In those days, they had rope beds. At night they would pull the rope through the bed frame and when they lay down, the rope would stretch and they would sink further and further into the bed until it wobbled.

So, they pulled the rope through the holes in the frame until they got to the end where there was a knot. They took the rope key, put the key around the knot and turned the key so that the bed would tighten up. The knot was retied and - Good night, sleep tight.


Mattresses were made from leaves or when the crop came in, they used straw, which was pokey and sticky. At night they pushed the hay around to make it comfortably fit their bodies. "I'm going to hit the hay."

Ever notice how short their beds are? People propped up pillows and reclined in beds, they didn't lay flat on their stomachs. Benjamin Franklin said it was very important that you don't lay down because that gave you consumption and all sorts of strange diseases.

The baking ovens in those days were cubby holes in the fireplace. They didn't have accurate time pieces or even a clock. The ladies would put their bread, pies or whatever they were making into the little oven, shut the doors and sing hymns. Old hymnals often had the word "Time" at the end of a song or verse. The women knew that three verses of "I Was Sinking Deep in Sin" for instance, and two verses of whatever was time enough and the bakery was done. Needless to say, there was a lot of hymn singing going on during baking times.

Old barns did not have silos then. They hollowed out tree trunks to store their grain and corn.

The term used for the station wagon automobile also came from the three seat wagon that went to the train station to pick people up.


If you visit the Cook house on the museum grounds you can see a yarn weasel. After forty turns of the weasel, a skein of yarn is wound. You know the skein is complete because the gears make a popping sound. "Pop goes the weasel."

In addition to the museum and all the things inside, all the buildings on the ground have been moved from other locations around the county.


Yale graduate, Peter Hitchcock, was Speaker to the Ohio Senate in 1814. In 1817 he was a congressman in Washington and was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court in 1819. He held that position until 1852.

His house which was built in 1813 was moved to the grounds in 1971. It was previously located at the Kent State University extension north of town. Hiram college was involved in the restoration of this house.

The Cook House was one of the first frame houses in Geauga County built in 1806 by Merriman Cook, who was related to the Cooks who came to this country on the Mayflower.

Among the many antiques you will find in this house is the comb back rocking chair or perhaps the first hair dryer. Of course, the ladies of the time did not cut their hair. When they washed it, they would sit down and flip their hair over the back of the comb-shaped portion of the chair and rock - either outside or in front of the fireplace. The rocking motion would gently fan their hair and it would dry, keeping the wetness off them.

Take careful notice of the portraits in the house. Many times an itinerant portrait painter would come around and paint the pictures of the people in the family. Often the bodies were already painted and the "artist" just added the head.

The William Law house was built in 1817. William married Mrs. Umberfield's sister. He was among the first settlers in Geauga County and purchased his 5,600 acres for .62 per acre.

This house was a gift to the museum from the Sun Oil Company. It was moved on March 2, 1961, when Sun Oil wanted to demolish it and build a gas station on the south west corner of the square. Not only did they donate the house, they contributed $2,850 to move it to the Village grounds.

These people were the first recyclers. Their sinks were made out of soapstone from the river bed. When they replaced these sinks, they took them outside, tipped them over and used them for steps. You will see one at the back door of this house.

They padded their rugs with straw. When it was cleaning time, they took the rugs apart, swept out the straw and loose dirt, filled the cracks with sand, respread the straw, and sewed the rugs back together. And you ladies think we have it hard today.

The Boughton house was built in 1834 and was moved to the village in 1955. It was restored and opened to the public in 1959.

The Boughtons were very wealthy people. Their home had a servants entrance and quarters, which was basically a hallway next to the main bedroom. This is one of the few houses in which you will find closets. Closets were taxed in those days.

Perhaps the most noticeable sign of wealth was the cast iron bake oven door. Fire was the second leading cause of death among women, childbirth being the first.

They wore long skirts and would work with open fires - not a good combination. Fires were common place. The cheaper wooden bake doors as well as other things would frequently cause fires with disastrous results.

There are many other interesting homes, barns, mills and stores in Century Village. This page is getting to long to continue telling you about them. For further information contact The Geauga County Historical society at (440) 834-4012. Century Village is located at 14641 East Park Street, Burton, OH 44021.

For a Current Schedule of Events at Century Village

The following are some of the events scheduled yearly at Century Village

Dealers with fine antiques visit Century Village for a quality show in an historic setting. 9:30 a.m. through 5:00 p.m.

Car Show, Ice Cream Social

Restored vintage cars and our ice cream social combined for a family outing.

Antique Power Exhibition

Old engines whistle, puff smoke, saw wood, thresh grain and demonstrate the power that made the horse obsolete.

Apple Butter Festival - October

This is probably the Village's most popular event bringing people from all over. The smell of apple butter permeates the air. A celebration of fall for over 50 years. Apple butter simmering in copper kettles, gifts, crafts, antiques and autumn in Century Village. Test your skill by stirring the apple butter with the large old wooden paddles.


In about 1300 Sir John de Broughton built his manor house in a sheltered site at the junction of three streams and surrounded it with a substantial moat.

William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England bought the house in 1377. It then passed to William’s great-nephew Sir Thomas Wykeham and thence to Sir Thomas’s granddaughter, Margaret, who married Sir William Fiennes, later the 2nd Lord Saye & Sele, in 1448.

Sir Thomas Wykeham obtained a licence to ‘crenellate and embattle’ in 1406: he added the battlemented wall to the gatehouse, thus giving the medieval house a military appearance – these changes allowed the manor house to be called a castle.

In 1554 Richard Fiennes completed a major reconstruction. He raised the roof to accommodate two floors above the Great Hall, building two staircase projections to the south and adding – on the foundations of the medieval kitchens – two rooms which form the west wing. After his death in 1573 his son, Richard, continued the embellishment of the interior, recording the date 1599 on the plaster ceiling in the Great Parlour.

The next period of building work came as a result of Civil War damage. After the nearby Battle of Edgehill in 1642 the local superiority of the Royalists enabled them to lay siege to the Castle which was captured and occupied. The need for repairs is reflected in the date 1655 on the gatehouse. Further outbuildings may have been damaged or destroyed and the Castle may have remained in poor condition: in the late 1690’s Celia Fiennes describes “my brother Saye’s house being much left to decay and ruine”.

The 18th century was by contrast uneventful but in the 19th century, William Thomas, 15th Lord Saye & Sele, indulged in a life of frivolity and extravagance as one of the set surrounding the Prince Regent and the Count d’Orsay. The family then lived at the more fashionable Belvedere at Erith in Kent and their neglect of the Castle caused it to be noted in 1819 that the rooms were ‘daily dilapidating from misuse’. In 1837 the bulk of the contents were disposed of in a twelve-day sale, the last item being the swans on the moat.

It is ironic that the squandering of the family fortune in the Regency period almost certainly saved Broughton from the architectural excesses of the Victorian age. William Thomas’s successor, Frederick, 16th Lord Saye & Sele, carried out vital repair work in the 1860’s with the architect George Gilbert Scott. Unfortunately further neglect followed when John, 17th Lord Saye & Sele directed his available funds at racehorses rather than the Castle. He let the Castle in 1886 to the Gordon-Lennox family and they invested in many enhancements to the gardens.

When the Gordon-Lennox’s lease expired in 1912 the Fiennes family returned. There remained a shortage of resources for the repair and maintenance of the Castle, but the second half of the last century was characterised by major restoration. In 1956 financial assistance received through the Historic Buildings Council enabled the stone-tiled roof to be renewed. In the eleven years between 1983 and 1994, in a programme led by Nathaniel, 21st Lord Saye & Sele, continuous stonework and other restoration took place towards which English Heritage gave generous support.

Dreams of France

Montagu was a greedy and ambitious fellow. He married twice for money and to advance his social status. He first went to France as an ambassador of King Charles II of England in 1669.

Although he was a minor noble, as the representative of the King of England his official entry into Paris was of unequalled magnificence. He developed a taste for the finest things at the time France was fast becoming the centre for luxury in Europe.

He travelled to France again in 1678, and returned to England with more than 200 trunks filled with works of art and furniture.

Facade of Montagu House, looking across the forecourt, etching and engraving by James Simon c.1715. © The Trustees of the British Museum , CC BY-NC-SA

To live in the magnificent way he did in France, Montagu needed a house to display his treasures. With aid of his first wife’s dowry, he built Montagu House in London – which would become the site of the first British Museum in 1755, before being demolished to make way for a new grand museum in 1850.

Montagu employed all manner of French architects, painters, sculptors, wood engravers, furniture makers and silversmiths to decorate his London house and country seat. He commissioned artists like Jacques Rousseau and Charles de la Fosse who had worked for Louis XIV at Versailles.

Montagu was a Francophile through and through. His household staff were nearly all French — everyone from his housekeeper to his wigmaker — and the entertainments he gave were in the French style, with French dancing and music.

Boughton House - History

It was a great treat to film at Boughton House last week for Britain's Lost Masterpieces. In the photo above, you can see us in the drawing room, where all the Van Dyck grisailles are hung a holy of holies for us Van Dyck fans.

The attributions for these little monochrome paintings, made as part of the preparations for Van Dyck's series of Iconografie engravings, have swung back and forth over the years. Some of the paintings at Boughton are certainly not by Van Dyck, and have long been accepted as later imitations. But I think the most recent Van Dyck catalogue raisonné, published in 2004, was a little too restrictive in accepting which grisailles were autograph or not. Indeed, the authors of the catalogue did not always agree amongst themselves which works were 'right'.

For example, Horst Vey, the eminent art historians who wrote the relevant 'second Antwerp' period of Van Dyck's career, when the grisailles were painted, rejected the attribution to Van Dyck of the above portrait of Rubens, while Sir Oliver Millar, who wrote the later English section of the catalogue, accepted it. For what it's worth I think Millar was right. The other grisaille of Rubens, below was accepted by both experts.

There will likely never be unanimity about these works, and nor must there be. But it's a fascinating conundrum. Happily, many questions will soon be answered by the new Jordaens and Van Dyck Panel Paintings Project.

Anyway, the point of this post is mainly to tell you that Boughton will soon have its annual summer opening, in August. I highly recommend a trip. More here.

The Cambridge-Boughton House Partnership

Boughton House, in Northamptonshire, is one of England’s great stately homes and houses one of the country’s finest private collections of art. Since 2012, the department has been developing a unique partnership in both teaching and research with Boughton and its owner the Duke of Buccleuch.

Boughton’s collections are remarkable, both for their range and quality and, in part due to historical accident, for their superb condition. The dukes of Buccleuch are based in Scotland and their Northamptonshire estate was visited by the family only rarely for generations until a sustained project of conservation and restoration begun under the stewardship of the present duke’s parents in the 1970s. For Duke Richard, the current owner, Boughton has become a lifelong project of heritage, restoration and rural enterprise.

The house and grounds offer magnificent opportunities for both teaching and research in everything from architectural history to landscape design, from the social history of art to archival research and connoisseurship.

Each spring, Part 1 students spend a study day at Boughton as part of the ‘Objects of Art History’ paper. There are then opportunities for Cambridge art history students to pursue further study at Boughton, whether as a focus for their undergraduate dissertation or as a subject of postgraduate research. Boughton offers Cambridge art historians magnificent hospitality and considerable resources, and the staff of the house work with those in the department to support students’ engagement with this world-class collection.

It is hoped that in due course collaboration between the Boughton and the department will increase further, with the possibility of major collaborative research projects, and use of the house, its grounds and its collections at every stage of the department’s teaching programme.

If you want to find out more about Boughton, you can visit its website here.

Treasures in Situ

The main building of Boughton House is much as it was in Ralph Montagu’s time. The mansard roof and plain white stone of the façade lend the building a distinctly French feel.

Despite what Montagu’s contemporaries thought, it is not that similar to the Château at Versailles. It looks more like the lost Château of Saint-Cloud, where Montagu spent time in the circle of the English princess, Henrietta Maria, who married Louis XIV’s only brother Philippe.

Photo: Euan Myles Photography/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-NC-SA

I don’t want to visit just to see its lovely Frenchified exterior. Boughton is one of those rare country houses still in the hands of the family that built it.

Today, it is one of the ancestral homes of the Duke of Buccleuch, passed on by marriage in the 18th century.

Boughton is not the largest, nor the fanciest, of the Buccleuch seats. This is probably why it remains intact, full of the treasures collected and commissioned by the first Duke of Montagu.

Among the hundreds of trunks of objects Montagu brought back with him from France was a desk attributed to Pierre Gole, furniture maker to Louis XIV. According to family tradition, this was one of the personal gifts the French king gave to Montagu. The Gole desk is an exquisite treasure shimmering in the gold and silver tones of its pewter and brass inlay.

Just as the first Duke of Montagu was an English ambassador to France, this desk became a French ambassador to England. But where Montagu only played the role of ambassador for a few years, the desk has been in ambassadorial service for centuries, sitting at Boughton waiting for an audience.

Houses like Boughton delight me more than any museum. There is something so special about seeing works of art where they have remained for centuries.

Objects in museums are a little like birds in cages. By contrast, when you glimpse an exquisite object like that shimmering desk in a country house it’s like spying a rare bird in its natural habitat.

Robert Wellington is a Senior Lecturer of Art History and Visual Culture at the Australian National University This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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