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11 of the Best Stately Homes to Visit in the UK


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11 of the Best Stately Homes to Visit in the UK

Take a trip to one of the UK’s historic gems

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Topics: Countryside / Family / London / national trust / Travel Guide / Visit Heritage /
       

Step into another world by visiting the most extravagant Stately Homes the United Kingdom has to offer…

     

11 of the Best Stately Homes to Visit in the UK

If you’re a history buff or feel a connection to an era other than your own, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of or visited a stately home. Historic, authentic and dripping with astounding decor, stately homes are vast properties once owned by affluent and aristocratic families. Located all over the UK and some just a stone’s throw away from busy towns, stately homes enrich even the most urban parts of the country and attract those who have an appreciation for the UK’s rich culture. Many remain privately owned whilst others are looked after by national organisations such as The National Trust, Historic Houses Association and English Heritage who take pride in keeping these homes in near-pristine condition.

A visit to a stately home can open your eyes and opportune an intimate sneak peek into the lives of those who once inhabited it, whether that be a prolific family’s Castle founded in 1055, or a Roman Fort that’s been around since the 1st century AD. If you’re looking for a fun day out with the kids, a pootle around some grand grounds with friends or just a momentary reprieve from the 21st century, a visit to one of the UK’s many hundreds of stately homes should make an appearance in your diary.

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1) Knole, Kent

Perching within Kent’s last-standing deer park stands Knole, The National Trust’s biggest stately home. Once passed through royalty to the Sackville family who resides there now, Knole was first built over 600 years ago as an archbishop’s palace. Famed for its grandeur and unbelievably vast grounds, Knole has been a tourist magnet for 400 years as people flock to Kent to get lost in the estates’ courtyards, winding paths, Orangery and showrooms which house seventeenth-century tapestries, furniture and an iconic spiral staircase leading to a one of a kind view. nationaltrust.org.uk

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2) Benington Lordship, Hertfordshire

Jump on a train to Stevenage to visit a medieval castle on an ancient site where it has remained since being built in the 1700s. Now listed as a monument, this stately home is one garden lovers will enjoy. In the summer, walk around the old-fashioned moat and enjoy the rose and herbaceous coated borders, and in the winter, experience the grounds as a carpet of scilla byzantica, daffodils, fritillaries and flowering shrubs and trees. beningtonlordship.co.uk

3) Apsley House, London

Aspley House, London

Nestled in the bustling streets of London’s Piccadilly is one of the grandest properties in the capital, Apsley House. The Georgian building housed the first Duke of Wellington and remains today much the same as it was when first built in 1815. Aspley, once known as ‘Number 1 London’, holds one of London’s finest art collections including works by Rubens and Velazquez, along with a superb collection of porcelain and silverware. english-heritage.org.uk

4) Cragside, Northumberland

A “wonder of its age”, Victorian House Cragside has innovation in its roots. Thanks to the genius of inventor Lord Armstrong, Cragside was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. Aside from being full of fun gadgets and creations, this stately home boasts one of the largest rock gardens in Europe. Awarded the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence, it’s impressiveness must be experienced to be understood. nationaltrust.org.uk

5) Chawton House, Hampshire

Chawton House, Hampshire

A five-minute walk from Jane Austen’s House Museum sits the house which her brother Edward Austen inherited in the late 1780s. Originally built in 1580 by the Knight Family, Chawton has since been owned by many different private owners, each administering different changes and developments, making it now a home to interesting and unique features. As well as a library with a rare collection of women’s writings, Chawton boasts breath-taking stained-glass windows and striking fireplaces. chawtonhouse.org

6)  Polesden Lacey, Surrey

Fancy walking in the footsteps of royalty? Kings and Queens have been visiting Polesden Lacey in Surrey since 1923, when The Duke and Duchess of York spent part of their honeymoon there. Named a ‘delicious house’ by Queen Elizabeth, this home holds an extensive art collection and is a visual love letter to the home’s royal guests. Walk around and marvel at how the decor was used to impress and woo its celebrity visitors. nationaltrust.org.uk

     

What’s On At The National Trust?

7) Loseley Park, Guilford

Built originally as a family house and still remaining so today, Loseley Park is an authentic example of classic Elizabethan architecture. Full of art and artefacts that were visited and admired by Queen Elizabeth I four times, this stately home is the best place for a slice of history only a short distance from Central London. Spend the recommended 4 hours there following a guide, hearing its fascinating history and getting lost in the rolling parkland and its views. loseleypark.co.uk

8) Auckland Castle Deer House, Durham

Auckland Castle Deer House, Durham

Situated within what was once the deer park of Auckland Castle sits Auckland Castle Deer House, home to the Bishops of Durham, which it has been since Norman times. During the Middle ages deer parks were as popular as hunting was to England’s aristocrats, but shelters for deer were rare, making this stately property an unusual, must-see visit. Walk over the wooded parkland, through the castle and into the deer house for a peek of 18thcentury Gothic Revival architecture. english-heritage.org.uk

9) Greenway, Devon

In the heart of Devon lies the late Agatha Christie’s private holiday home. Nosey about her family’s intimate collections of archaeology, silver, books and botanical china, and stand by the fireplace where the great author once stood. Named “the loveliest place in the world”, a visit to Christie’s stunning 1950’s home allows a glimpse into how the family lived. Relax by the river where they would play croquet and golf, and visit the Boathouse, the scene of the crime in ‘Dead Man’s Folly’. nationaltrust.org.uk

10) Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, South Yorkshire

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, South Yorkshire

One of the most well conserved Victorian stately homes is Brodsworth Hall, built in the 1860s for the Thellusson family and their many servants. Since being under the wing of English Heritage, the conserved interior and restored gardens look remarkably unspoiled and make for a wonderful family day out. Take a picnic to the grounds, stop for tea in the tearoom or opt for a detailed guided tour to appreciate all the secrets this historic home holds. english-heritage.org.uk

11) Hardwick Hall, Chesterfield

Last on our list but most certainly not least is Elizabethan masterpiece, Hardwick Hall. Created by the ‘Bess of Hardwick’ in the 1500s, the houses and gardens of Hardwick are the result of centuries of work at the hands of farmers, builders, decorators, gardeners, craftsmen and embroiderers. This year, The National Trust looks at the lives of the women who resided there and their respective positions of power. Open every day, visitors can enjoy countryside walks, woodland trails, and breath-taking views. nationaltrust.org.uk

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