Seven of the best stately home tours in the UK
From Downton Abbey to Victoria, it seems we can’t go a year without a period drama lighting up our screens and transporting us back to the romance of yesteryear. But the luxury of days gone by is not completely confined to television. In fact, quite the opposite. In 2013, visits to historic houses increased by 7%
We’ve put together a list of our favourite stately home tours in the UK, from sipping bubbly in Sandon Hall to taking a charter helicopter over Chatsworth House, so you can have a taste of grandeur and take in a bit of local history at the same time.
Sandon Hall, a beautiful stately home in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside, has 50 acres of formal gardens and 400 acres of parkland. The beautiful 19th century mansion is often used for weddings and conferences, but it’s the wide array of tours and parties that we find particularly inviting.
Sandon Hall throws a number of events over Christmas. Their Prosecco Party really shouldn’t be missed, and for £35 you can sip top quality prosecco and enjoy fabulous canapes in a setting of complete splendour.
Over 600,000 people make the effort to visit this stately home every year. It’s easy to see why, Chatsworth House is quite possibly the most beautiful house in the country. However, even the majesty of the stately home’s architecture is no match for the awe-inspiring Derbyshire countryside that surrounds it.
That’s why our favourite tour of Chatsworth House is slightly different, as it’s from the sky. Bespoke Air Charter run the Stately Homes and Gardens Helicopter tour. Setting off from Battersea Heliport, the trip also takes in the Cotswolds, Castle Howard and Mellerstain House.
Chatsworth House is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, remodelled to designs by Talman 1686-1707, and includes a world class art collection. This exclusive trip lasts 3 days, and takes in some the UK’s finest countrysides, country houses, restaurants and hotels.
If you don’t have a head for heights, it’s well worth seeing Castle Howard from ground level too.
As Yorkshire’s only representative on our list and one of the North of England’s finest stately homes, nowhere quite celebrates royalty like Castle Howard.
This 18th century stately home is completely surrounded by the Howardian Hills and allows visitors to completely escape into a bygone world. The stately home’s Happy and Glorious exhibition, running from at 28th May 2016 to Sun 30th October 2016, includes admission to the house and grounds, and offers visitors the chance to see a replica of the crown jewels.
Or as you may well know it, the house from hit TV series, Downton Abbey. Although the fictional Downton Abbey is set in Yorkshire, the actual estate is in Hampshire, easily accessible from London.
As well as acting as the setting for the much loved television show, Highclere Castle boasts the illuminating Egyptian Exhibition narrating the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun, and exquisite surrounding gardens.
Highclere Castle is open to the public around 70 days a year. The house next reopens to public in December as part of their Christmas tour opening.
This impressive 18th century stately home transports visitors back to a bygone era without them actually have to leave West London. The guests that do make the journey to this magnificent neo-Palladian villa will enjoy the fantastic cafe and impressive gardens. The Gardens themselves are particularly impressive, having undergone a £12.1 million restoration project in 2010.
Interestingly, and somewhat controversially, the house wasn’t designed to be a stately home. In fact, it was built by Earl of Burlington in 1729 as an architectural experiment. As an English Heritage venue, Chiswick House is free to visit.
Built and mostly designed by William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, between 1555 and 1587, Burghley House is England’s grandest Elizabethan house. This stately home really is a place where history comes alive.
You can see for yourself easily enough as well. A tour of the House and Gardens are available daily and prices to take in both equally exquisite factions start at £14 for adults and £7 for children. This perfect day out is also easily accessible, as the stately home and gardens lie just 20 miles north of Peterborough in Lincolnshire.
For stately home enthusiasts North of the border there’s Blair Castle. The incredibly photogenic alabaster building is the ancestral home to Clan Murray and dates back to the 13th century. The family still own the property today, fortunately they do open their home to the public, allowing visitors to take in over 700 years in the quintessential Scottish country estate.
Atholl Estates run tours of the Perthshire stately home, with prices starting at £10.70 for adults and £6.40 for children.