DiCamillo Companion

Belvoir Castle

  • Earlier Houses: At least two earlier buildings existed on the site: a Norman castle and a 16th century house, bits and pieces of which were incorporated into the current Castle.

    House & Family History: The name of the Castle, meaning "beautiful view" in French, dates to a famous Norman castle built in the 11th century by Robert de Todeni (later Robert de Belvedeir), Standard Bearer to William the Conqueror. This castle was mostly destroyed by Lord Hastings in the 15th century during the Wars of the Roses. The Castle ruins laid untouched for years, until rebuilt in the 16th century by the 1st Earl of Rutland, using stone from the recently dissolved Croxton Abbey and Belvoir Priory. This Castle was also demolished -- this time in 1649, during a siege by Parliamentarians during the English Civil War (during the Civil War Belvoir was a notable stronghold of the king's supporters; Charles I spent a night here on his way into Lincolnshire during the war). The Castle was rebuilt again in the 1650s and 1660s, when it was noted for its plantations on the top of the hill (see engraving in the "Images" section). Belvoir, as seen today, is based on the 17th century Castle, designed on the courtyard plan of a Norman castle, with enormous alterations and remodelings that took place between 1801 and 1830 to the designs of James Wyatt and his office. The interiors were redone to the taste of Elizabeth, 5th Duchess of Rutland (1780-1825); the most notable and famous of the new rooms is the famous Elizabeth Saloon, named after the duchess. Belvoir is at the center of Catherine Bailey's 2012 book, "The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret."

    Collections: Belvoir contains works by Poussin, Holbein, Rubens, Reynolds, and Govelin. A painting of Cheveley Park (a former seat of the dukes of Rutland, now demolished) by Jan Siberechts, 1671, is today in the collection at Belvoir. The collection also includes Mortlake tapestries, Chinese silks, furniture, porcelain, and sculpture. The Rutland Psalter was sold to the British Museum in 1984.

    Comments: Pevsner called Belvoir "…much the beau ideal of the romantic castle." In 1846 "White's Directory" cited Belvoir as "by far the most superb architectural ornament of which Leicestershire can boast."

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The Statue Gardens were constructed into the hillside below the castle and named after the 17th century sculptures on display. Thomas Barlow designed the stables for 1st Duke of Rutland. The Belvoir Estate today comprises approximately 15,000 acres.

  • Architect: Matthew Cotes Wyatt

    Date: Circa 1820-30
    Designed: Interiors, together with Benjamin Dean Wyatt.

    View all houses

    Architect: John Thorpe

    Designed: Gallery between Rosse and Stanton Towers on the South Front of the Castle
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
    View all houses

    Architect: John Webb

    Date: 1655-68
    Designed: Rebuilt Castle for 8th Earl of Rutland after damage by Parliamentary forces in 1649

    View all houses

    Architect: Benjamin Dean Wyatt

    Date: Circa 1820-30
    Designed: Interior decoration of principal rooms and Romanesque Mausoleum in grounds for 5th Duke of Rutland (in collaboration with M.C. Wyatt)

    View all houses

    Architect: Thomas Barlow

    Designed: Stables for 1st Duke of Rutland

    View all houses

    Architect: James Wyatt

    Date: 1801-13
    Designed: Rebuilt and remodeled House for the 5th Duke of Rutland

    View all houses

    Architect: Jeffry Wyatville (Wyattville) (Wyatt)

    Date: 1816
    Designed: Rebuilt after fire
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
    View all houses
  • Vitruvius Britannicus: C. IVth. pls. 47-50, 1739.

    John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. II, p. 61, 1853.

    John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. II, 1819.

    Country Life: XCI, 851 [Plate], 1036 [Plate], 1130 [Plate], 1942. CXX, 1284, 1402 plan, 1456, 1500, 1956.

  • Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pgs. 979, 1030, 1105, 1119
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Movie Locations: A Guide to Britain & Ireland
    Author: Adams, Mark
    Year Published: 2000
    Publisher: London: Boxtree
    ISBN: 0752271695
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Disintegration of a Heritage: Country Houses and their Collections, 1979-1992, The
    Author: Sayer, Michael
    Year Published: 1993
    Publisher: Norfolk: Michael Russell (Publishing)
    ISBN: 0859551970
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • "Little Lord Fauntleroy" (1980 - TV movie, as Dorincourt). "Young Sherlock Holmes" (1985). "A Hazard of Hearts" (1987 - TV movie). "King Ralph" (1991 - the White Room was used as a Buckingham Palace interior). "The Haunting" (1999). "The Golden Bowl" (2000). "Stately Suppers" (2005 - TV documentary, one of 10 half-hour episodes). "The Da Vinci Code" (2006 - as Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's Italian summer residence; exterior helicopter shots only). "The Young Victoria" (2009 - the Elizabeth Saloon was used as an interior of the Duchess of Kent's residence). "The Duchess" (2009 - HGTV 6-part docu-soap series on family life at Belvoir Castle narrated by Clive Pearce). "Victoria and Abdul" (2017). "The Crown" (2016-19 - as Windsor Castle). "The Great" (2020).
  • Seat of: David Charles Robert Manners, 11th Duke of Rutland; Manners family here since the 16th century.

    Past Seat of: Robert de Todeni, later Robert de Belvedeir, 11th century. William d'Aubigny (Albanie), 13th century. Robert de Ros (Roo), 13th century. George Manners, 11th Baron de Ros, late 15th-early 16th centuries; Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland and 12th Baron de Ros of Helmsley, 16th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01476-871-002

    Fax: 01476-870-443

    Email: info@belvoircastle.com

    Website: http://www.belvoircastle.com

    Historic Houses Member: Yes