Best stately homes to visit in the UK
Originally exclusively owned by the landed gentry, an increasing number of the UK’s stately homes are being opened to the public, having been sold to the National Trust. Hundreds of these homes are now welcoming thousands of visitors every year, and it’s easy to see why they are such a draw. Stately homes are incredibly diverse in their designs, with wondrous decor, pristine gardens, and labyrinthine corridors, making them the perfect places to get lost in for a day. Many of these homes also host various events throughout the year including markets, fairs, and museum days, so visitors of all ages are never short of things to do.
In this piece, we’ll take you through the best stately homes to visit in the UK.
Sandon Hall, a stately home in Staffordshire, is set in 400 acres of scenic parkland and is the ancestral home of the Harrowby family, who remodelled it into a Georgian House in 1776. The country mansion has ten rooms, including an opulent conservatory and lavish drawing room with magnificent views of Sandon Hall’s vast gardens. As well as offering ornate rooms and luscious landscapes to explore, the stately home also has a museum on its first floor. Here, visitors can marvel at the various valuables amassed by the Harrowby family, including correspondence sent by historic figures like Charles Dickens.
Sandon Hall also hosts a wide range of events, including concerts, fairs and flower shows. Its vast grounds make it the perfect setting for spring and summer events, with the Flower Power fair proving particularly popular amongst locals. As well as viewing the thousands of plants on show, families can spend time wandering through the gardens and enjoying a picnic in the sunshine. Sandon Hall is also ideal for private events, and is regularly hired out for weddings, christenings, and corporate parties.
Located in West Sussex, Arundel Castle is a restored medieval castle built over 1,000 years ago. Constructed by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel, it has been the seat of the family of the Duke of Norfolk for more than 850 years. Boasting a motte, its own chapel, and 40 acres of gardens, Arundel Castle is also noted for hosting the likes of Queen Victoria, and houses artwork from the likes of Canaletto and Van Dyck. Overlooking the River Arun, the castle also offers visitors scenic views of the sea, the Sussex downs, and the picturesque town of Arundel itself.
Open between March and October, the castle hosts a wide range of events catering to all kinds of visitors, including medieval history days, Shakespearean performances, and car enthusiast meets. Family events, such as the annual Family History weekend, are also extremely popular with attendees, providing have-a-go archery, storytelling, and the opportunity for kids to meet a range of historical characters. As well as events, the castle also provides guided tours, as well as a museum which tells the story of the town’s history.
The only palace in the UK that isn’t owned by the royals, Blenheim Palace is the residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, and is located in Oxfordshire. It is notable for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Winston Churchill, having been built in the early 18th century as a gift for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. Blenheim Palace is also renowned for its Baroque architecture—a luxurious style that came about in late 16th-century Italy. As well as the vast landscaped park, formal gardens, and woodlands, the stately home also has a grand staircase, a library, and a chapel, amongst other features.
Blenheim Palace is open daily, and has a restaurant, two cafes, a pantry, and a toy shop for families to enjoy. It hosts many different events throughout the year, such as antique fairs, exhibitions, flower shows and food festivals, and is available for private hire. The country home is also a popular filming location, and has featured in everything from James Bond and Harry Potter, to Cinderella and Transformers.
Situated 8 miles north of Kelso in Scotland, architect William Adam started building Mellerstain House in 1725, before his brother finished the job in 1778. Standing in picturesque parkland and gardens, centred around an ornamental lake, the stately home is renowned for its stunning design. Featuring period furniture, china, and embroidery collections, and fine art from the likes of Aikman, Gainsborough, and Ramsay, the interior and exterior of this stately home are equally beguiling.
Visitors can pay to visit the grounds between April and September, with various events taking place at the house throughout the year. These include art tours and exhibitions, and a music and art society. The grounds are also home to a cafe, playground, and courtyard cottages which are popular with adults and children alike.
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