From rose gardens and rare deer parks to Arts and Crafts furniture and Tudor carpets, these are Britain’s most outstanding stately homes to visit when you're ready to travel again.
There’s plenty to enjoy on a trip to a stately home: fresh air, manicured gardens, intriguing histories, period architecture, fine art collections and much more.
Here at Country Living, we love the heritage, magnificent architecture and brilliant stories behind Britain's impressive stately homes.
That's why we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourites for you to experience on a day out; or perhaps on a longer tour, where you can treat yourself to a spot of silver-spoon luxury?
These are the best stately homes to feel like a lord or lady.
Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
Set against the dramatic backdrop of Arthur’s Seat, at the end of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, this stately home is the Queen’s official Scottish residence. During summer, the Palace of Holyroodhouse's bird-filled gardens are a riot of colour – no wonder the Queen hosts her annual Garden Party here.
Inside, you’ll find royal treasures and thrones, Mary Queen of Scots’ elaborate private chambers, portraits of real and legendary kings of Scotland in the Great Gallery, French and Flemish tapestries in the State Apartments, and the shining silver banqueting service in the Royal Dining Room.
You can visit the stately home during Country Living’s four-day magical Scotland tour, where you'll tour the luxurious royal rooms at Holyroodhouse Palace and explore Loch Lomond and the stunning Highlands while travelling by coach.
Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Osborne House was Queen Victoria’s favourite palace – a grand holiday home she’d visit with Prince Albert, that boasts the most impressive formal gardens on the Isle of Wight. The colourful walled garden is lovely for an afternoon stroll, as is the peaceful woodland walk.
You can visit Victoria and Albert’s bathing beach and admire their children’s cottage, before stepping inside to explore the sumptuous ground floor state rooms, with their ornate architecture, furnishings and fine art collection.
On Country Living's tour of the Isle of Wight’s best gardens, you can explore the grounds of Osbourne House with Christine Walkden and the stately home's head gardener, as well as enjoy lunch in the Terrace Restaurant and a tour of the house.
Althorp House, Northamptonshire
Althorp House has been in the Spencer family since the 16th century, so it’s no surprise its 90 rooms contain centuries of fascinating history. Step inside to admire the imposing oak staircase, spectacular carpeted Billiard’s Room, gorgeous antique furniture and gold-framed portraits. What’s more, the grand property is surrounded by 550 acres of private land, where you can spot beautiful rare black deer.
Travel with Country Living to the stately home and you'll receive a personal welcome from writer Earl Charles Spencer when you arrive at Althorp, which will be closed to the general public.
Earl Spencer will give a private talk and let you explore the house and grounds. You’ll also travel in total luxury aboard the art deco Belmond British Pullman, enjoying a delicious brunch and elegant dinner on your journey there and back.
Sandringham Estate, Norfolk
The much-loved family retreat of Her Majesty the Queen, Sandringham House is bordered by around 60 acres of formal gardens, home to rare and unusual trees, tranquil lakes and unique water gardens. Inside are fabulous collections of family portraits by leading painters.
Sit back and admire the Estate over a cup of tea and fresh Norfolk produce in the Sandringham Cafe, or for those feeling more energetic, there are plenty of opportunities to discover local wildlife on the nature trails.
On a Country Living tour of Norfolk, you can enjoy a rare opportunity to tour Sandringham Estate with former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond, who'll share her stories about the family and the history of this magnificent country manor while you wander through its halls.
Petworth House, East Sussex
Thanks to its gorgeous countryside location, Petworth House boasts far-reaching views of the South Downs, ancient thousand-year-old trees and a deer for each of the 700 acres of grounds. These fallow deer have called the park home for over 500 years, which are now managed sustainably for wildlife, having originally been landscaped by none other than Capability Brown.
There’s also a world of wonders inside the home - Petworth boasts arguably the finest collection of art in the care of the National Trust, including works by Turner, Reynolds, Blake and Van Dyck.
You can visit the stately home and its gardens during a charming short break with Country Living. You'll also step back in time on the Bluebell Railway, stopping at the 1930s-themed Horsted Keynes station, which you might recognise as Downton Abbey’s 'Downton station’.
Rodmarton Manor, Gloucestershire
Rodmarton Manor is a joy to explore, with plenty of spots to sit and admire the view from the gardens. As well as delicate roses flowering throughout the summer, there is some amusing topiary to keep an eye out for.
What’s more, this Cotswolds manor reflects the area’s Arts and Crafts Movement history. Rodmarton Manor’s builder Ernest Barnsley was a keen follower of this artistic trend, which emphasised the importance of making things by hand, and you can admire high-quality antique furniture inside the charming house.
You can visit Rodmarton, Westonbirt National Arboretum, Painswick Rococo Garden and Hidcote Gardens on Country Living's Cotswolds tour next spring, when the flowers are starting to bloom and lambing season is in full swing.
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
One of Derbyshire’s finest properties, Chatsworth House is full of history, holding Mary Queen of Scots as a prisoner on various occasions at the request of Queen Elizabeth I. There are over 25 rooms to explore on your visit, including the Painted Hall, State Rooms and Sculpture Gallery.
You can go on a guided tour of the masterpieces in the company of Flog It!’s Paul Martin, who films at Chatsworth regularly and knows its history inside out. Paul says: “Join me as we discover the treasures of Chatsworth House. Then off to an antiques market to go bargain hunting… and put that newfound knowledge to the test!"
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