English stately homes, like its castles, have been a feature of the British landscape for the past 500 years. A key part of a gentleman’s status, along with the accompanying gardens, a fine country seat was essential for the pride of the family name.
If you want to visit some of these national treasures, which ones should you add to your itinerary? The following list of ten English stately homes will help you:
1. Highclere Castle (Newbury, West Berkshire)
The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted one thing about Highclere Castle: it was the setting for the period drama, Downton Abbey. Built in a Jacobethan style back in 1679, the castle is a popular tourist destination.
2. Castle Howard (York, Yorkshire)
Built on the ruins of Henderskelfe Castle, this stately home took over 100 years to build, believe it or not! It has palatial rooms, extensive gardens and offers breathtaking views. This grade-I listed building is also rich with history and attracts thousands of visitors.
It was also the setting for the 1980s TV adaption of Brideshead Revisited.
3. Montacute House (Montacute, South Somerset)
An Elizabethan mansion, Montacute House is a stately home managed by the National Trust.
It features a gallery filled with works of art supplied by the National Portrait Gallery. Notable former residents of Montacute House include Lord Curzon and his mistress Elinor Glyn.
4. Longleat House (Warminster, Wiltshire)
A popular family destination, Longleat is a stately home that features a safari park.
For over 60 years, Longleat has been one of Britain’s best-loved attractions and is an early example of an Elizabethan prodigy house.
5. Barrington Court (Barrington, Somerset)
Those of you that wish to visit a Tudor stately home should go to Barrington Court.
A listed building, it was once surrounded by a deer park in the 17th century.
Today, it’s a popular tourist attraction rich with history and opulence.
6. Blenheim Palace (Woodstock, Oxfordshire)
One of England’s largest stately homes is Blenheim Palace.
In 1874, it was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill (he is buried in a nearby churchyard).
Today, it is still under the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough’s ownership but the palace and its grounds are now open to the public.
7. Osborne House (East Cowes, Isle of Wight)
A short ferry ride away from Portsmouth is the Isle of Wight, home to one of England’s most important stately homes: Osborne House.
It used to be the summer residence of Queen Victoria and is the place where she died in 1901.
8. Woburn Abbey (Woburn, Bedfordshire)
In the 12th century, Woburn Abbey was a Cistercian monastery but, today, is a stately home owned by the Duke of Bedford.
Set in 3,000 acres of land, Woburn Abbey is a Grade-I listed historical building and is also notable for its impressive collection of artwork, including works by Rubens.
9. Burghley House (Stamford, Lincolnshire)
Built for Elizabeth I’s chief advisor, Burghley House features many lavish and stately rooms.
Film buffs may recognise this property as “Castile Gandolfo” in the film version of The Da Vinci Code.
10. Hatfield House (Hatfield, Hertfordshire)
A stately home next to the childhood palace of Elizabeth I.
It boasts Jacobean furnishings and over 10,000 books and is currently owned by the 7th Marquess of Salisbury.