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A Tudor mansion built by Queen Elizabeth’s Lord High Treasurer.

The building period of the house extended over a period of 32 years. We know from the State Papers that the east range was erected in 1555 and work continued on the east and south ranges until 1564. Sir William Cecil had purchased Theobalds Manor, Hertfordshire in 1563 and for a whole decade was fully engaged there in the building of his great ‘prodigy’ house.

At Burghley in August 1564, Edmund Hall, the surveyor, promised that the south side should be finished by winter. Thereafter, little more work was done until 1575 when the team of masons was reassembled. The west front with its great gate-house (it was originally intended to be the main entrance) was finished in 1577. The north front was completed in 1587.

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The stone used to build Burghley was from the Kingscliffe quarry in Northamptonshire. The oolitic limestone is so hard and durable that on the south front a quarter of the blocks still show the masons’ identifying marks.