guided house tours

We arrange private guided art tours around Birdsall House for interested and specialist groups. Our wonderful collection of antique furniture and paintings are unique and include works collected by the Willoughby family over the generations. We have an unbroken line of family portraits from 1570 and a collection of furniture that can rival the best English Country Houses. The art and antiques tell stories of the lives and fashions of successive generations of the Willoughby family over more than 500 years.


Fascinating family history

There have been some pioneering members of the Willoughby family.  Hugh Willoughby died in 1553 trying to find the North East Passage Trade Route over to the Far East. Francis Willoughby (1635 – 1672) was a Naturalist and founder member of the Royal Society. He identified and catalogued hundreds of species of plants and animals 200 years before Darwin! Nesbit Willoughby (1777–1849) is remembered as one of the most reckless characters in British naval history and is supposedly one of the characters on which the Hornblower novels are based.

These family members, and many more, have collected items and stories which help create the rich tapestry of the Birdsall House antiques and furniture collections, as well as tales for the family history archives. You can learn a little more about our history here.


Historic house tours

We run two options for tours of Birdsall House. For larger groups of 20 or more we are able to hold a private tour for a group. For 2022, we are offering the tours during 3 separate weeks in 2022; 21-25 March, 7-15 June and 26-30 September. We offer a welcome and brief history of Birdsall House and the Willoughby family followed by a guided tour of our grand state reception rooms and unique family chattel collections. This is followed by tea and biscuits in The Dining Room. These tours are £20 per head and should be booked directly with Cara Willoughby:

Alternatively, for smaller parties and individuals, we now are part of the Historic Houses Invitation to View scheme and open the house on set dates (within the same weeks) over the summer to pre-booked guests. The tours follow the same format as the larger groups but allow smaller groups and individuals to visit us. Tickets should be booked through Historic Houses.

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