The house belonged to Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, better known as Lord Burlington, whose taste and skill as an architect have been frequently recorded. The "architect earl" designed and built it in 1726-9, with garden design input from William Kent.
The octagonal domed Palladian villa is inspired by the Villa Capra "La Rotonda" near Vicenza and at the same time a fine example of 18th-century architecture, with its colonnaded portico on the upper storey, the frescoed ceilings, the velvet rooms and the stone rooms. It differs from the Villa Capra in having three different designs to the facades (front, back, and two matching sides) rather than being symmetrical all the way round. There is also a superb collection of paintings and palladian furnishings.