Office Trip to Burghley House and Little Gidding

Our office outing this year was to two fascinating sites either side of the A1, one where we have been working for many years and the other where our work has just begun!

Our Managing Director Henry Freeland has been advising the Burghley House Preservation Trust on the conservation of their buildings since 2002. The house was built as a country retreat by Lord William Cecil, the English statesman and chief advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, between 1555 and 1587 and is built out of a beautiful golden oolitic limestone quarried in nearby Kingscliffe. It is recognized as one of the finest stately homes in the UK and is still inhabited by the Cecil family.  Our tour included a wonderful walk over the ‘leads’ which gave us fantastic views over the gardens laid out by Capability Brown and allowed a close-up  examination of the incredible stone chimneys.

Our coach then took us to the tiny isolated hamlet of Little Gidding, a World Heritage site north west of Huntingdon set in wonderful rolling countryside. It is the site of a fascinating social and religious experiment carried out in the early 17th century when a small band of academics and their families, led by Nicholas Ferrar, left Cambridge to found a religious community here, giving up their worldly possessions to lead a spiritual life of prayer.  It also inspired the poet T.S Eliot to write his famous Four Quartets, the last of which is entitled Little Gidding.  Our associate Iain Frearson has been recently appointed as inspecting architect for the jewel-like 17th century Grade I listed church that remains the centre of worship for the community.  It is built in red brick and Ketton stone with roofs in local Collyweston slate which need some urgent repairs.  Henry Freeland is also helping the Trustees with some ideas on possible works to the Retreat Centre, Ferrar House, which welcomes visitors from all over the world.

As is usual with our office trips we all learnt a great deal and felt warmed on our journey back by the intake of so much thought-provoking knowledge, ideas.. and cake!