Last time, we saw country houses that had been used in the film and TV industry, royal residences, and the birthplace of some of Britain’s most notable politicians. More of that to come, and hopefully we’ll discover some new, fascinating things about the buildings that make the British countryside so iconic.
6. Hampton Court Palace. This royal palace is located in the London Borough of Richmond, and though it was built for someone else, Henry the 8th took it for himself. The house has a beautiful astronomical clock, and it’s one of the most famous places in the Tudor era, because so much happened there. King Henry’s only male heir was born there! The palace is absolutely massive, so you’ll need a fair amount of time to go round it. The chapel and the Great Hall are incredible! 2015 is the palace’s 500th anniversary, so you can expect lots of events to revolve around that. In Christmas time, the palace hosts an ice rink, which is a really lovely place to skate if you don’t fancy any of the central London ones.
7. Stourhead. Although the house itself isn’t that spectacular or opulent, compared to the other places on this list, the gardens are arguably the best in the country. Located in Wiltshire, the gardens are thousands of acres big, and include a lake, a Temple of Apollo replica, lots of exotic and beautiful flowers, and even a grotto. Like many stately homes, it’s been used as a film location countless times, and has possibly one of the most recognisable gardens in England.
8. Powis Castle. Not actually a castle, but a striking building nonetheless. The castle is built into a hillside, and it’s a reddish colour, which stands out against the Welsh hillside. The terraces in the garden are similar to many palace gardens on the Italian Lakes, particularly the ones at Isola Bella. The castle itself is medieval, but it has lots of artefacts inside it that are even older. One of these is a marble statue of a snake and a cat, “Clive of India’s Cat”, which is Roman. Considering the Romans weren’t really big fans of cats, the statue is rare, and is very valuable. Worth a look!
9. Highclere Castle. This house near Basingstoke is the house they use for Downton Abbey. Though it’s privately owned, visitors can go around the house and look at the rooms they used for filming, including the bedroom of Lord Grantham himself. The gardens are also a wonderful sight. The house is hugely popular, though, so you’ll have to book months in advance!
10. Last, but certainly not least… Longleat. This house was built in the 1500s, and it’s very nice. Really, it is. The house has some distinct Elizabethan features in it, and the garden was designed by Capability Brown, nicknamed “England’s greatest gardener”. Oh, and did I mention the Safari Park? Thousands of acres of land were turned into the first safari park outside Africa! 500 animals roam the grounds, including monkeys, lions, tigers and elephants. Wow! Possibly the most fun stately home in the country. It also has a huge hedge maze and adventure playground. DEFINITELY the most fun stately home. Ever.
Image from: http://wiltshireweb.co.uk/gardens/longleat-magnificent-house-estate