Belton House is a country house in Belton near Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. Coordinates: 52°56′38″N 0°37′22″W / 52.944°N 0.6228°W The mansion is surrounded by formal gardens and a series of avenues leading to follies within a greater wooded park. Belton has been described as a compilation of all that is finest of Carolean architecture, the only truly vernacular style of architecture that England had produced since the time of the Tudors. The house has also been described as the most complete example of a typical English country house; the claim has even been made that Belton's principal facade was the inspiration for the modern British motorway signs which give directions to stately homes. Only Brympton d'Evercy has been similarly lauded as the perfect English country house.
For three hundred years, Belton House was the seat of the Brownlow and Cust family, who had first acquired land in the area in the late 16th century. Between 1685 and 1688 Sir John Brownlow and his wife had the present mansion built. Despite great wealth they chose to build a modest country house rather than a grand contemporary Baroque palace. The contemporary, if provincial, Carolean style was the selected choice of design. However, the new house was fitted with the latest innovations such as sash windows for the principal rooms, and more importantly completely separate areas for the staff. As the Brownlows rose from baronets to barons upward to earls and then once again became barons, successive generations made changes to the interior of the house which reflected their changing social position and tastes, yet the fabric and design of the house changed little.
Following World War I (a period when the Machine Gun Corps was based in the park), the Brownlows, like many of their peers, were faced with mounting financial problems. In 1984 they gave the house away—complete with most of its contents. The recipients of their gift, the National Trust, today fully open Belton to the public. It is in a good state of repair and visited by many thousands of tourists each year. (read more . . . )
Simon Bradstreet (baptised 18 March 1603/4 – 27 March 1697) was a colonial magistrate, businessman, diplomat, and the last governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Arriving in Massachusetts on the Winthrop Fleet in 1630, Bradstreet was almost constantly involved in the politics of the colony, but only became its governor in 1679. He served on diplomatic missions and as agent to the crown in London, and also served as a commissioner to the New England Confederation. He was politically comparatively moderate, arguing minority positions in favour of freedom of speech and for accommodation of the demands of King Charles II following his restoration to the throne.
Bradstreet was married to Anne, the daughter of Massachusetts co-founder Thomas Dudley and New England's first published poet. He was a businessman, investing in land and shipping interests. Due to his advanced age (he died at 93) Cotton Mather referred to him as the "Nestor of New England". His descendants include the famous jurists Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and David Souter. (read more . . . )