The Duchess of Rutland decks the halls of one of England’s grandest country estates
HIGH ATOP A HILLOCK, DEEP IN THE HEART OF THE MIDLANDS, Belvoir (pronounced beaver) Castle surveys the gentle rolling hills of the Vale of Belvoir, as far as the eye can see. First built after the Norman Conquest of 1066—and rebuilt and expanded many times since—Belvoir is one of England’s great stately homes. Seat of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland and home of the ancestral family of David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, since 1508, Belvoir lives and thrives in modern times as a result of the energy and vision of his wife, Emma Manners, Duchess of Rutland. Like Blenheim, Chatsworth, and other Grade I stately homes that were threatened by the extinction of the British class system and the annihilation of an entire generation of young men in World War I. The evolution to a commercially sound, multi-income stream business has insured the survival—indeed, the future—of Belvoir Castle.
There is no time in the calendar year, however, when Belvoir shines more brightly than at Christmas. Inside, Regency era-inspired holiday decorations embellish every state room with festive elegance by award-winning interior designer, Charlotte Lloyd-Webber. Outside, follow an enchanting light trail that courses through nearly a mile of Belvoir’s world-renowned gardens. And, of course, Santa will be on hand in the castle and down the hill in the Engine Yard, created by Her Grace, which houses an assortment of shops and restaurants.
Surely one of England’s most inspiring women, meet the Duchess of Rutland on YouTube by searching for “A Day in the Life of a Duchess: Emma Manners, Duchess of Rutland.” Her Grace has transformed her family’s ancient home into one of the most successful Grade I estates in the United Kingdom.