Friday, July 29, 2011

Burleigh House, My Ancestral Home

This grand estate is Burleigh House in Stamford, England. It was built for William Cecil, Lord Burleigh, Queen Elizabeth I's right hand man.

You may recognize it from the Keira Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice. In that movie it belonged to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins' patroness. It was called Rosings and the scene at the dinner table was filmed inside Burleigh House.

During a trip a few years ago, my husband and I serendipitously stumbled upon this great house. Inside was a display of the clothes that Lizzy Bennett and Mr. Darcy wore in the 2005 movie version. From the town of Stamford, the walk across the park to get to this house was probably close to a mile.

Lord Burleigh's daughter, Countess Anne, my 12th back maternal great grandmother, married Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, who is a very good contender named in the mystery that is William Shakespeare. Some think that Shakespeare was his pen name and that he actually wrote all the work attributed to the bard. Will we ever know? In 1596, Edmund Spenser wrote a dedicatory verse to Edward de Vere in Fairie Queen, his tribute to Queen Elizabeth. Anne is buried in Westminster Abbey.

And to think that I walked where my ancestors walked, saw their house and personal's just too much to take in. I'll have to go back now that I know the history of our family.

Edward owned the ship Bonaventure which shipwrecked in Bermuda. That story later became Shakespeare's (or Edward's) The Temptest. The craziest thing about that wreck is that on board was a man named Jordan, who was my husband's ancestor! I guess the world has always been smaller than we thought.

My maternal grandmother's maiden name was Deaver. It was changed from de Vere when my ancestors came to America. It's of French origin and has been traced back to 1045. Another de Vere ancestor fought alongside William the Conqueror in the battle of Hastings in 1066.

Sorry to ramble, but I just love this stuff! It just makes history come alive. I'm trying to engage my soon-to-be teenager with our family stories hoping to fan into flame her smouldering interest in history. Wish me luck!


Beth Stone said...

So when are you moving in??? :o)
Really interesting post! I actually wrote a paper on "Who was really Shakespeare" in college, so it's neat to discover that you are related to Edward de Vere! And we have another friend whose ancestor was in the Battle of Hastings too. Small world.... :o)

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I think this is the sort of thing that makes history come alive for people--feeling somehow connected to it. I'm on a big history kick myself right now (Revolutionary War, etc.) and for me, it's the personal, domestic details that draw me in to the bigger story.

Fun post!


M.K. said...

Oh, that's not rambling, Debbie -- that's fascinating! What a history! And how neat that you have such a direct tie to it, right down to the name :) The house is stunning. That makes me want to watch the movie again.

Lisa Richards said...

Wow, how very cool! That's my second favorite version of Pride and Prejudice. (Colin Firth version; number one!) You have a lot of fascinating family history. I'm a big fan of English Lit, so I'm very excited for you! :) And the part about your husband's relative...unbelievably strange!!

grannimcd said...

Interesting --- fascinating --- amazing --- thanks for sharing....