Murals were not decorations of architectural structures so much as active sites of meaning that have the potential to reveal and animate aspects of long seventeenth-century culture. Murals represent the ‘Idea’ at the boundary between the real and imagined. They function almost as a representation, a physical manifestation, of that idea drawn from the mind’s eye of the spectator. The murals at Burghley House demonstrated the prerogative of the patron to make light of his monarchical allegiance, a freedom not associated with the Stuart masque. Mural painters were animators of domestic environments: they brought houses to life, making them sites of activity, knowledge and affective experience. Mural painting was the medium that allowed themes of mutability to be expressed in an immutable way.