The Victorians at Burghley


Queen Victoria succeeded to the throne on June 20th 1837. She ruled this country and its dominions for 63 years, a reign exceeded only by that of our present Queen.

The Victorian age was a period of great change; an age of industrial efficiency, economic progress, scientific discovery and expansion of the British Empire.
During this period, four Marquesses of Exeter owned and lived at Burghley:
Brownlow, 2nd Marquess (1795-1867) inherited the title in 1804. He held several political appointments in the Royal household, including that of Groom of the Stole to the Prince Consort. During his tenure, in 1844, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert came to Burghley, a visit that was preceded by many expensive alterations and improvements to the House.
His marriage to an heiress brought not only a fortune, but many wonderful works of art to Burghley. However, his deep involvement in the world of horseracing caused enormous debts which took years to clear.
His son, William Alleyne (1825-1895), 3rd Marquess, was an entirely different man; a successful breeder of both livestock and fish who loved the land. Unfortunately, his other passions, for sailing yachts and gambling, meant that expenditure considerably outstripped income, resulting in the sale of land, property and works of art.
His death in 1895 was sadly followed three years later by that of his son, Brownlow, 4th Marquess (1849-1898), at the age of only forty-eight.
In the twilight years of the Victorian age, William, 5th Marquess (1876-1956) proved to be a superb steward of his inheritance. He carefully guided the Estate through two World Wars and a long period of agricultural depression, gaining the respect of all those who knew him. By the time of his death, his tenure had encompassed the reigns of five successive monarchs.
This exhibition focuses on many aspects of art, design and sport from this remarkable time in English history.