Skip to content

Belton's collection

Oil painting on canvas of Dorothy Mason, Lady Brownlow by Sir Godfrey Kneller from Belton House.
Oil painting on canvas, Dorothy Mason, Lady Brownlow (1665-1699/1700) by Sir Godfrey Kneller (Lubeck 1646/9 - London 1723) | © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Acquired over 400 years, Belton House has one of the finest collections in the country, renowned for its quality, completeness and sheer style. Take a look at the highlights you shouldn’t miss on a visit to Belton.

Highlights from Belton's collection

The highlights of Belton’s collection lie in four areas: late 1600s English portraiture, silver, ceramics and books. In each of these areas, Belton is outstanding and among the best in the National Trust.

English portraiture

The late Keeper of the Queen’s Pictures, Sir Oliver Millar, considered Belton the best place in the country to see a representative collection of late 1600s and early 1700s portraits. Works by Wissing, Kneller, Vanderbanc, Soest and Dahl rub shoulders with the work of less acclaimed artists such as Mary Beale and Brianus Birdeus.

One of two pairs of silver sconces hanging in the Chapel at Belton House. Originally given by George IV to the Royal Goldsmiths for melting down but they used other metal and sold the originals.
One of two pairs of silver sconces hanging in the Chapel. Originally given by George IV to the Royal Goldsmiths for melting down but they used other metal and sold the originals. | © National Trust Images/Angelo Hornak

Silver

Belton’s collection of silver includes show plates from the late 1600s through to the 1800s, and more conventional pieces for everyday use.

The silver collection includes a series of royal candle sconces, gilded cups and massive ‘pilgrim’ bottles as well as chocolate pots, cutlery and an entire dinner service made for Sir John Cust when he was Speaker of the House of Commons.

Oriental ceramics

The best ceramics of Asian origin tend to be Japanese, splendid in their inky dark blues, iron reds and gilt. Punch bowls, used for serving the popular alcoholic beverage of the early 1700s, feature twice in the collection; teapots and teacups, less exotically, appear more often.

A little Chinese incense burner is perhaps the most charming piece; from the Ming period (roughly War of the Roses and Tudors in England), it is in the form of a heraldic lion, fiercely defying all approaches with bared teeth, but small and prettily painted in blue.

There is an extraordinary group of important French porcelain vessels decorated to resemble the flawless finish of Japanese lacquerware. Consisting of a jug and six vases, the collection was made at the Royal Porcelain Manufactory in Sèvres just outside Paris, between 1790 and 1791.

Unusual for the time, there is a pair of jars for containing pot-pourri or burning incense. Described by the factory as ‘pot-pourri vase with lion-heads’ (‘vase pot pourri à têtes de lions’) their necks are pierced, and they have Egyptian lion’s head handles. No other example of the model survives.

The atlas Britannia, published by John Ogilby in 1675, effectively the first road map of England, in the Library at Belton House, Lincolnshire.
The atlas Britannia, published by John Ogilby in 1675, effectively the first road map of England, in the Library at Belton House, Lincolnshire. | © National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Books

Belton’s libraries, of which there are two, are considered second only to that of Norfolk's Blickling Estate in significance. The collection includes rare political pamphlets of the 1600s and 1700s, Italian and Russian books, and tracts on legal, agricultural and political matters.

Recently re-acquired for the library is the late 1600s Ogilby book of road maps, the first of its kind in the world.

More collections to discover

An unusual timepiece

Some of the most dazzling individual items fall outside these categories, in particular, the longcase clock by Daniel Delander, complete with perpetual calendar and zodiac calendar, leap year indicator, and solar time.

Oriental wall coverings

Chinese wallpaper hung in the Chinese Bedroom and Bamboo Bedroom offer exquisite glimpses of the Oriental wall coverings popular in the 1800s.

A close-up of Chinese wallpaper at Belton House, depicting bamboo, climbing plants and birds, with human figures in the foreground.
Chinese wallpaper at Belton House | © National Trust Images/Martin Trelawny

A feature cabinet

A real jewel in the collection is an architectural cabinet entirely veneered in the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli. Thought to have been made in Rome around 1640, the cabinet takes inspiration from the facades of Italian Renaissance churches.

Oil painting by Melchior d'Hondecoeter

No visit to the mansion is complete without seeing the three massive canvases of birds, painted by Melchior d’Hondecoeter in the 1600s, that decorate the Dining Room. They came from a chateau near Antwerp in the 1800s, and were accompanied by one even bigger, which was sold, sawn in half, and is now to be found somewhere between Texas and an island in the Caribbean.

A series of porcelain vessels in the collection at Belton House, painted and decorated with gilt and platinum Chinese designs

Belton's collections

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at Belton House on the National Trust Collections website.

You might also be interested in

View of Belton House in the winter from the South Drive
Article
Article

Visiting Belton House 

Packed full of treasures, discover a mansion bursting with history. Belton's collection tells a story rich in global history and our future work will focus on bringing those stories to life. 

A very frosty morning by Statue walk in the gardens at Belton House, Lincolnshire
Article
Article

Visiting the gardens at Belton 

Explore the gardens at Belton, including the Italian Garden, a Conservatory and a Dutch Garden with formal bedding schemes. Whatever time of year you visit, the shifting seasons provide a great variety of colour and wildlife to see.

Woman giving child a piggyback
Article
Article

Family-friendly things to do at Belton 

Explore our fun family day out ideas, including our indoor play area and outdoor adventure playground. Make the most of your day out with the kids at Belton.

Book conservation volunteer in action mending a historic book at Belton House, Lincolnshire
Article
Article

Our work at Belton 

Work at Belton uncovers stories from the past and preserves over 400 years of history, helping us to look after this special place for everyone, for ever.

Sevres Wine Cooler, showing nymphs worshipping the bust of Pan, from a service made for Louis XVI, dated 1792, in the Porcelain Lobby at Upton House, Warwickshire

Art and collections 

The art and heritage collections we care for rival the world’s greatest museums. Learn more about the collection of paintings, decorative art, costume, books, household and other objects at historic places.

Painting on display in the Upper Gallery at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
Article
Article

Introducing our remarkable collections 

See the breadth of our collection of works of art, furniture and more: we care for around a million objects at over 200 historic places, there’s a surprise discovery around every corner.

Man and woman looking at large historic globe in gallery lined with Greco-Roman statues
Article
Article

Celebrating 125 treasures in our collections 

Discover the stories behind some of the greatest artworks and artefacts looked after by the National Trust, as told in a dedicated book, 125 Treasures from the Collections of the National Trust.