Burnt Norton (house)

Burnt Norton is a manor house in Upper Norton, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, best known for being the inspiration for T. S. Eliot's poem of the same name.[1]

Burnt Norton
Burnt Norton House (geograph 2041927).jpg
General information
Coordinates52°04′18″N 1°47′18″W / 52.071678°N 1.788408°W / 52.071678; -1.788408Coordinates: 52°04′18″N 1°47′18″W / 52.071678°N 1.788408°W / 52.071678; -1.788408
Design and construction
DeveloperSir William Keyt, 3rd Baronet
Known forinspiring T.S. Eliot's Burnt Norton


Sir William Keyt, 3rd Baronet, Member of Parliament for Warwick between 1722 and 1735, was married to the Hon. Anne née Tracy. Keyt left his wife in London while he went to live with her maid on his Cotswold estate, where he spent much of his fortune in extending and improving his mansion. He notably added two large side extensions to it after his mistress, upon viewing the house, asked "what is a kite without wings."

In time the mistress deserted him, and he began drinking heavily. One night in September 1741 he caused a fire which spread to the whole house. Unsuccessful attempts were made to rescue him and little was left of him to be buried at the church of Aston-sub-Edge. It was said he was deranged and set the fire deliberately.[2] It was also proposed that he started the fire after a bout of heavy drinking.[3]

In 1753 the property was bought by Sir Dudley Ryder, Lord Harrowby’s ancestor and has remained in the family ever since.[4] The house was rebuilt and renamed Burnt Norton.[5]

During the Second World War, Burnt Norton was occupied as a girls' boarding school by Tudor Hall school[6] and, after the war, it was used as a school for boys from inner cities. In 1998, after lying empty for 30 years, Burnt Norton was restored as a family home.[citation needed]

In popular cultureEdit

The estate became known as Burnt Norton and the garden remained as an attraction. It was after visiting the garden with his friend and suspected lover Emily Hale that T. S. Eliot wrote Burnt Norton, the first of his Four Quartets.[7]

The story of Keyt and Norton House was the subject of a 2014 novel: Burnt Norton by Caroline Sandon, a pen-name of the present occupier, the Duchess of Harrowby.[8][9]


  1. ^ "Norton House (also known as Burnt Norton)". Parks & Gardens. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  2. ^ Mr Urban (1797). The Gentleman's Magazine, Part 2. E. Cave. p. 1109. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  3. ^ "KEYT, Sir William, 3rd Bt. (1688-1741), of Ebrington, Glos. and Stratford-on-Avon, Warws". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  4. ^ Thomas Rudge, Sir Robert Atkyns (1803). The History of the County of Gloucester Compressed, and Brought Down to the Year 1803. p. 38.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Landscape of Burnt Norton". Oxford Mail.
  6. ^ Tudor Hall: the first hundred years 1850-1946, Charmian Snowden
  7. ^ Caroline Sandon on the real-life history behind Burnt Norton; Head of Zeus
  8. ^ "Book review: Burnt Norton by Caroline Sandon". www.clitheroeadvertiser.co.uk.
  9. ^ Hartford, Maggie (12 June 2014). "Walk in T S Eliot's countryside". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 13 December 2020.