Belvoir Castle, Leicesteshire
19th century

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Notes in italics from Leicestershire and Rutland by Nikolaus Pevsner, Revised by Elizabeth Williamson with Geoffrey K. Bradwood (1984), Yale University Press, New Haven and London

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North wing, west wing, and part of east wing 

The first Belvoir Castle was built by Robert de Todeni in the late C11 ... The name Belvoir occurs for the first time as Belvedere in 1130 ... (The name means 'beautiful view' and is now pronounced 'beever'). It was rebuilt in the 16th century by the first Earl of Rutland (Sir Thomas Manners, created 1526), again in the 17th century and finally in the 19th century. It was the fifth Duchess, an enthusiastic amateur architect and proficient draughtsman, who motivated the recasting. In 1801 she obtained the services of James Wyatt. ...The work was supervised by the Duke's friend and chaplain, the vicar of Bottisford, the Rev. Sir John Thoroton. In 1816 a fire badly damaged the N and E wings, though Wyatt's W and S wings escaped. Thoroton redesigned the exterior and the circulation areas of the damaged wings. ...
Exterior. Belvoir Castle lies on a hilltop ... and the castle looks looks very spectacular, with its varied outlines and its towers, turrets, and crenellations - the beau ideal of the romantic castle. ... The stone is a brilliant yellow ironstone with grey stone dressings. The style adopted throughout is Mixed Medieval. Most of the windows are still rectangular, the C17 shape, with labels applied. The short wings of the C17 entrance front were carried up another storey into towers
(first picture) ...and the remains of the SW tower were built out at an angle (on right in second picture). The chapel facade, already with three tall Gothic windows, was made into a 'W front', belying the internal orientation, with flanking towers with pretty Perp turrets and a ground-floor loggia ... On the W front Wyatt built out a big round tower. In the batter of its base are deeply cut arches, and higher up round-headed windows with recessed orders, thinly Norman. The same type of base on Thoroton's more fanciful E tower, with a canted end, has Gothic butresses like those on the N porch. To the main floor heavily zigzag-decorated windows (Thoroton took his Norman more seriously then Wyatt), eclectically combined with a typically early C19 classical cast-iron balcony rail. Above, weighted down by the heavily machicolated parapet and bartizans, the weak upper storeys of rectangular windows.

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Entrance Hall or Guard Room, with Guard Room Gallery with low rib-vaults. Dogtooth on Perpendicular-style arches. The stair balustrade synthesizes the two styles of decoration in the house with Gothic tracery composed to completely classical effect.

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The Elizabeth Saloon in Thoroton's tower (is) a memorial to the fifth duchess and the most pompous of all the rooms in Belvoir Castle. Its decoration (1824 by M.C. Wyatt) is one of the first examples of the so-called Louis Quatorze style, that neo-Baroque, neo-Rococo mixture ... white and gold boiseries, piers glasses, frames, and carvings, blue silk hangings, and an elaborate frieze of Manners peacocks. Ceiling painted by Wyatt in the style of Verrio ... The Duchess, whose taste for French furniture and textiles determined the style of the room, appears again as a glistening white statue, designed by M.C. Wyatt and carved by his son James Wyatt, which walks nobly and elegantly towards us ...

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The Picture Gallery ... is in B.D & Philip Wyatt's Roman style ... Of noble height, with lighting high up from a wide Diocletian window above the big projecting cove and from roof lights in the three floating groin-vaults ...
On the W side, filling two-thirds of the W wing, the Regent's Gallery, the long gallery of the C17 house enlarged by Wyatt into a drawing room by the addition of a huge semi-circular bay (his round tower) and decorated in a moderate late Georgian Classical style. The colours are red, gold, and white ... 

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Chapel with high lierne vault. 
Effigy of the first abbot of Newbo, Lincolnshire, early 13th century.



Belvoir Castle Website


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