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Burley-on-the-hill, on open downland 2 miles east of Oakham (Rutland), is one of the most dramatic of 18th-cent. houses, its size enhanced by sweeping wings with recessed doorways, leading to outlying pavilions. The estate had once belonged to James I's favourite Buckingham, and was purchased in 1696 by Daniel Finch, earl of Nottingham, who began building at once to his own design, drawing on his Italian experience. It was completed by 1700, becoming the home of the ‘dark, funereal Finches’. The vast courtyard is closed by a magnificent iron gateway, the work of Joshua Lord. Burley commands extensive views over the vale of Catmose. The gardens were reshaped in the 1790s by Repton, and the church, connected by a corridor to the main house, contains a fine sculpture of Lady Charlotte Finch (d. 1813) by Chantrey.

J. A. Cannon

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