Handel at Boughton

10th June, 2016

This August, Northamptonshire’s Boughton House will be home to a specially curated exhibition exploring seminal moments in the life of composer George Frideric Handel.

Guests to the Estate, home to the Duke of Buccleuch, will be in for a treat during this year’s annual August opening, with all ticket holders gaining free access to Handel at Boughton during normal opening hours

The exhibition will chart key episodes in Handel’s life, following him from Rome to London’s West End, and Montagu House – the ancestral home of the Duke of Buccleuch, where he was a frequent visitor.

Learn about the advent of Handel’s Italian opera company, under the patronage of the Duke of Montagu (an ancestor of the Duke of Buccleuch), and his celebrated Music for the Royal Fireworks of 1749, commissioned by the Duke.

The exhibition will bring together for the first time a collection of artefacts, including a 1720 harpsichord (probably Handel’s own) and celebrated sculptor Louis-Francois Roubiliac’s own first model for Handel’s monument in Westminster Abbey, plus a Chelsea porcelain orchestra and some very rare orchestral instruments from the period.

Items on display from the renowned Buccleuch Art Collection include the first edition of Messiah, striking portraits of the Montagu family who entertained and commissioned Handel, period furniture and the original menu from Handel’s lunch with the Montagus in 1747.

Paul Boucher, the exhibition’s curator, said: “It is fascinating to focus on Handel in this way. At Boughton we are fortunate to have so much original material. Several stories have emerged, including Handel’s early life in Rome, his affection for Dance, his Lunch at Montagu House and the stormy creation of the Music for the Royal Fireworks.

“To those visiting the Estate who are perhaps new to Handel, you’ll not only get a flavour of the man behind Messiah and over 60 operas and oratorios, but the atmosphere of the London that Handel made his own.

“For enthusiasts, it’s also an opportunity to focus on some lesser-known aspects of Handel’s life.”

Handel at Boughton will be launched with a special event on Sunday 17 July, hosted by the Duke of Buccleuch. Beginning in the Estate’s restored Grade 1 Gardens, the day will include a buffet brunch, House tour, exhibition entry and performance from counter-tenor James Laing and Parisian dance company Les Corps Eloquents – where scenes from some Handel’s most spectacular operas will be recreated.

The day will culminate in the world premiere dance performance of Luke Styles’ “Passacaille”, a 21st century re-imagining of Handel by one of today’s most celebrated young composers.

Handel created over 70 works for the French dancers at his disposal in London, thanks to patrons like the Duke of Montagu, whose collection of original choreographies survives to this day at Boughton.

The event starts at 11am and ends at 5pm. Early bird tickets cost £55 if purchased before 20 June, and will be £65 thereafter.

Charles Lister, property manager at Boughton House, added: “Our special exhibition will be a real added bonus for new and returning guests to the Estate this summer. We’re looking forward to welcoming Luke Styles, James Laing and Les Corps Eloquents to help launch what’s set to be our biggest opening season yet.”

Boughton House and Gardens will open throughout August. Guided House tours will begin at 1pm, with the last tour at 3.30pm daily.

The Great Hall Tour, plus entry to the Gardens, Armoury and special Handel at Boughton exhibition costs £10 for adults, £8 for children and £30 for families (2+2). Children under five go free.  The State Rooms tour is available for an extra £2.00 per person, while the Bed Books and Beyond Tour costs an additional £12.50 per person.

The Gardens will open between 12pm-5pm, with last entry at 4pm. Tickets cost £6 for adults, £3 for children and £14 for families (2+2). As an added bonus, Gardens tickets holders will also gain access to the Armoury and special Handel exhibition.

Tickets for the summer openings can be booked in advance by calling 01536 515 731 or purchased on a first come, first served basis at the kiosk on the day.