Burghley’s 2019 exhibition takes us on a journey around the Far East. William Cecil, the builder of Burghley House, was Queen Elizabeth I’s principal advisor and her Lord Treasurer. As such he took great interest in the expansion of foreign trade, particularly with the treasure-laden lands of the Far East.
Lord Burghley’s great atlas of 1570 illustrates the long sea voyages undertaken by early sailors. They held many dangers, but the rewards were great; the sea trade, initially in spices, developing to encompass a great range of beautiful and exotic luxury items: porcelains, semi-precious stones, lacquerwork, exquisite mother-of-pearl and delicately carved ivories. These were previously unknown in Europe and were destined to have a significant influence on Western culture. Many such items were collected by William Cecil’s descendants during the centuries that followed. The Special Exhibition shown in the Treasury Gallery during 2019 will illustrate their taste for the exotic.