I have been fascinated by this house for many years, and when I discovered that it was periodically open, decided to visit it.
In order to make the most of the trip, I booked the full Fitzwiliam tour for myself and a friend, and am very glad to have done so. The tour lasts about an hour and a half in the house, and about an hour in the gardens, and one sees as much as is available for public viewing.
Our first guide, whose association with the house began in 1970, provided a lively commentary as we made our way through the tragically denuded rooms of this great palatial residence; our second guide, who was also on duty in the tea room afterwards, gave us a most enjoyable tour of the gardens.
Three of the rooms are more or less as they should be - the Pillared Hall, Grand Staircase, and the Marble Saloon still have their original statuary in situ. Just seeing these three is an experience worth having. The other rooms, although more or less empty, still have the power to evoke the glory days of this great house. The view from the terrace is breathtaking, but the best of the garden tour is actually saved for last - that being the outside of the West Front.
The tea room, in the old Servants' Hall, provides good tea and excellent cakes at a very reasonable price. The shop has a good range of local produce and gifts and souvenirs relating to the house.
The staff could not have been more friendly or efficient - both front of house, and also in the bookings office.
Mr. Newbold has taken on a task of an almost incredibly daunting scale - but he clearly has the vision and determination to see it through.
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