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The Stables at Burton Constable

Our restored Stable Block is now open to visitors!

Explore the Huntsman's Office where he kept a watchful eye over the stable workers; climb the clock tower and see where the grooms and stable boys would have slept and follow the story of Billy the Stable Lad with our interactive listening posts to learn what Victorian stable life was really like.

Don't forget to peek inside the old stable barn, you may be surprised with what you find!

Stables Tours, Talks & Demonstrations

We have a number of stables events planned throughout the year where you can learn about the restoration project, resident wildlife, how horses were cared for and transport in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Visit our Events page for full details

History of the Stable Block

The large Stable Block at Burton Constable was built in 1770 to the designs of the architect Timothy Lightoler, replacing an Elizabethan stable block that stood to the north-east corner of the main house. By the 19th century, the Stables contained four carriage houses, with stalls for hunters in the north block and stalls for 'old hack horses' and 'draught horses' in the, less-grand, southern block. The attic levels contained bedrooms for grooms and servants. 

The Clifford Constables were passionate about hunting, and in 1842 the large indoor Riding School was built at a cost of £981-4s-2d. A row of loose boxes was also added to the east side of the Riding School to accommodate extra horses (now demolished) and a 'cow house' to the west side (now the Tea Room).

Burton Constable Whale

A particularly notable feature in the parkland at this time was the skeleton of a 58½ foot-long sperm whale. The bull whale had been stranded on the shore at nearby Tunstall in 1825, where it aroused a great deal of public interest. As Lords of the Seigniory of Holderness, Sir Thomas Aston Clifford Constable had claim to anything washed upon the Holderness shore, so the whale became the property of the Burton Constable estate. News of the stranded whale reached the ears of the distinguished Hull surgeon James Alderson (1794-1882), who set about its detailed study and dissection. He presented his Account of the Whale of the Spermaceti Tribe cast on the shore at Tunstall in Holderness to the Camridge Philosophical Society on 16 May 1825 and published his account two years later.

In time, the skeleton of the whale was transported to the parkland at Burton Constable where it was articulated on a wrought iron framework in 1836. The mounted skeleton was again examined, this time by Thomas Beale (1807-49) whose published account of 1839 came to attention of Herman Melville, who published his renowned Moby Dick in 1851:

...at a place in Yorkshire, England, Burton Constable by name, a certain Sir Clifford Constable has in his possession the skeleton of a Sperm Whale...Sir Clifford’s whale has been articulated throughout; so that like a great chest of drawers, you can open and shut him, in all his long cavities - spread out his ribs like a gigantic fan - and swing all day upon his lower jaw. Locks are to be put upon some of his trap doors and shutters; and a footman will show round future visitors with a bunch of keys at his side. Sir Clifford thinks of charging twopence for a peep at the whispering gallery in the spinal column; threepence to hear the echo in the hollow of his cerebellum; and sixpence for the unrivalled view from his forehead.

The remains of the skeleton were recovered from the park in 1995 and are now exhibited in the Great Barn in the Stable Block.

Did you know?
Afternoon tea was created by the Duchess of Bedford in the late 18th century. She invited friends to join her for an afternoon meal of small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, sweets and, of course, tea. The practice was so popular that it was quickly adopted by other social hostesses 

The Burton Constable Whale is featured in Herman Melville's famous novel Moby Dick. 

Today the Burton Constable Whale is nicknamed 'Constable Moby'

Over 80 different species of birds have been spotted at Burton Constable, from the smallest British bird, the Goldcrest, to large birds of prey such as Buzzards and Barn Owls