The Great Hall Window Restoration
Burghley Estate completes the restoration of ten original sash windows in the Great Hall
Following an inspection of the Great Hall in April 2021, the Burghley Estate maintenance team identified ten windows located on the lower east section of the Hall that were deteriorating rapidly and beyond repair. Listed Building Consent to restore the windows was granted and planning to replace the original timber began.
Adrian Woolf, Burghley Estate Joiner
Adrian has worked as part of Burghley's Joinery Team for over 13 years, having first joined the trade at the age of 16.
Involved in this particular project from beginning to end, Adrian commented that all of his skills and experience were required for the challenge of the Great Hall window restoration.
The wood used to construct the new sash frames and sliding window sashes originates from Burghley Park oak trees that were felled back in 2002. The timber was collected and stored in anticipation of just such a project.
In the summer of 2022 and after almost two decades of air-drying, Adrian selected the timber from which he would build the new frames and window sashes.
A conservation glazier from Norfolk was commissioned to make the leaded glass for each sash. Using traditional methods, the glass was fitted frame by frame by Adrian and fellow Burghley Estate Joiner, Gerry.
"It is wonderful that we have been able to restore the Great Hall windows, especially as we were able to use timber from trees grown and felled here on the Estate. This restoration project has been challenging but using traditional methods of glazing, lead work and joinery has been incredibly satisfying. The team and I are thrilled with the result and proud to have been a part of such an important and worthwhile project.
I'd like to thank Gerry for his help with the installation, Head of Building Services Stuart Burns & Building Services Manager Jon Edwards for their support throughout."
History of The Great Hall
Visitors to Burghley House will be able to view the results of the restoration when the House reopens on 18th March. For an external view, the Great Hall windows can be seen from the Rose Garden, accessed via The Orangery Restaurant.
The Hall was constructed during Sir William Cecil’s second phase of building, between 1575 and the completion of the house in 1587. The initial scheme featured a ‘wall of windows’ on the East side, similar to that built at Hardwick Hall. However, the huge weight of the Collyweston slate roof caused structural problems, which led to the filling-in of many windows.
Originally an important room, used for family dining and lavish entertainments, the Hall fell from fashion during the seventeenth Century, when an Inventory recorded its use as a storeroom; a home for the fire engine and pigeons that entered through broken windowpanes.
Fashions changed and in the early nineteenth Century the room was completely refurbished by the 2nd Marquess of Exeter. The stone flagstones were replaced by a wooden parquetry floor suitable for dancing, a complicated heating system was installed, and the windows were enhanced by fitting panels of stained glass, some contemporary others mediaeval, purchased from the parish church of Tattershall in north Lincolnshire.
In 1835, a banquet was held in the Hall to celebrate a visit by the Duchess of Kent and the young Princess Victoria. Further stained-glass panels, featuring the Royal Arms, were installed in 1844 when Victoria—now Queen and accompanied by Prince Albert—spent four days at Burghley, dining in the Hall accompanied by local dignitaries and politicians. The portraits feature members of the Cecil family, their ancestors and members of the Royal Family.
The Great Hall banquet during the Royal Visit of 1844, by Henry Bryan Ziegler (1793-1874).