If you looked at the “Top Ten” list of castles, then this one about mansions and stately homes should interest you just as much! Though British architecture may not be as “fairytale” as French chateaux or German palaces, it has its own unique style that separates it from the rest of Europe. It fits in with the history of Britain – different styles were in fashion at different times, which is especially noticeable in the gardens! Some parts of these stately homes were even designed with difficult times in mind – some had defences against the peasantry, but trapdoors, banqueting halls and bedrooms of many of these houses frequently had a role in the politics of the day. Let’s have a look at the top 10 places to visit.
1. Montacute House. This house in Somerset (a bit near Yeovil) has been used in hundreds of films and TV shows, including the adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The house was built in the Elizabethan era, and as well as some fantastic gardens and a beautiful orangery, it also has the longest “long gallery” in England. This contains lots of artwork, so it’s a brilliant way to learn about the famous people of the past.
2. Blenheim Palace. As well as being possibly the most visually stunning and prestigious house in the nation, this house is also the birthplace of Winston Churchill. This is the seat of the Duke of Malborough, and is located in Oxfordshire, meaning it’s relatively easy to get to. Fun fact – it’s the only palace in the UK that doesn’t belong to royalty or the Church!
3. Osborne House. This one’s on the Isle of Wight, so it might be a bit more tricky to get to. However, it’s well worth it, and is one of the most popular attractions on the entire island. This was one of Queen Victoria’s favourite residences, designed by her beloved Price Albert to look like an Italian villa. It was also the site of her death in 1901 – so it had a lot going on, in the past.
4. Chatsworth. Weirdly, this is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, but Chatsworth house is in Derbyshire. Famously, it was featured in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. As a result, lots of different adaptations of the book have been filmed here. Both the house and gardens are stunning, and it’s often been voted Britain’s favourite country house. It’s a hugely popular tourist attraction all year round.
5. Castle Howard. This spectacular castle in Yorkshire once had its own railway station, and it’s surrounded by acres and acres of beautiful parkland. You might have seen this house in Garfield: A Tale of 2 Kitties. As well as being a beautiful mansion with a wonderful entrance hall, this place also has an adventure playground.
Wow! All this writing is making me want to do a mansion tour of the UK. Let’s have a look at some of the other magical residences Britain has to offer.
Image from: http://www.ntprints.com/image/353329/aerial-view-of-montacute-house-in-somerset