Everyone knows of Britain’s long, varied and at times, downright ugly history and it is fascinating both to those of us who live here but particularly to visitors from abroad. So much of our country’s history is preserved. We don’t boast ancient ruins, but we do have thousands of historic stately homes, proud castles and country houses whereby the Kings and Queens and Earls and Dukes of the past have walked. So whether you live in the UK and just want to enjoy a day trip or are on holiday from another country, here are some of the finest historic houses to visit in the UK.
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
One of the UK’s finest examples of stately homes is Chatsworth House, nestled in the heart of the Peak District National Park in the county of Derbyshire. The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire currently reside in the house, the latest in the set of 16 generations of the Cavendish family to have done so! Boasting one of the most important art collections in Europe, and with over 30 grand rooms open to the public, including the likes of the Painted Hall and so much more, Chatsworth House is a fascinating building to visit, with inspiring architecture and impressive antiques. The beautiful and extensive gardens will certainly compliment your visit here.
Hampton Court Palace, London
Hampton Court Palace, a royal palace in Greater London, may not have been inhabited by the Royal Family since the 18th century but it was the home of the infamous Henry VIII King of England in the 16th century! Inside, the extensive palace is brimming with royal artefacts and impressive pieces of art with a double height chapel, bed chambers and kitchens. Outside there are several gardens to explore, not to mention the huge maze to attempt. Catherine Howard and Jane Seymour, two of Henry’s wives, are said to haunt parts of the palace. Embark on a guided tour with staff dressed in traditional costume and truly step back in time with a visit here.
Erddig House, Wrexham
Owned by the National Trust, the 18th century Erdigg House is found in Wrexham in Wales. Set among 485 hectares of land with an attractive walled garden, Erddig House is a romantic country house and is perfect to visit on a sunny day. It has frequently won awards and polls as one of the finest historic houses in Britain! Discover both the stately rooms upstairs as well as the rooms below on a tour of the house before enjoying a leisurely afternoon in the grounds.
Warwick Castle, Warwick
From heroic battles to ancient myths, medieval Warwick Castle boasts more than 1,000 years of history. The original castle was constructed from wood by William the Conqueror in 1068; however it was later rebuilt in stone during the 12th century and refortified in later years. Not only is the castle set in a beautiful location, it makes for an enthralling visit for all ages with the castle dungeons, ramparts and towers proving popular with younger visitors. Others will appreciate the Chapel, Great Halls and State Rooms. Seasonal activities such as the jousting area and birds of prey help bring the rich history of this fascinating building to life. The town of Stratford upon Avon is also located nearby and it is here that you can visit William Shakespeare’s birthplace.
Audley End House & Gardens, Saffron Walden
Dating to the 17th century, Audley End House is a top choice for anyone wishing to explore a grand and historic home. It was once in fact regarded as one if the finest Jacobean mansions in the country with the characteristics of a palace, yet it was built simply to entertain. Travel here and explore the Victorian serving wing with a dairy, kitchen and laundries as well as the stables and of course the exceptional interior rooms. Frequented by many Lords and Ladies and Barons and Earls, the history of Audley End is as impressive as the architecture and furnishings found within and makes for an enjoyable day out in East Anglia.
Leeds Castle, Kent
Set on two islands in the midst of a lake formed by the River Len in Kent, Leeds Castle is a joy to explore. With 900 years of history, the castle was used extensively by Royals in the past, including King Edward I and King Henry VIII’s wife, Catherine of Aragon. Whilst the initial site has hosted a castle since 1119, the current buildings date primarily from the 19th century in Tudor style. The building itself is quite small but the Banqueting Hall and medieval Queens Rooms are wonderful to explore. Described as the ‘Loveliest castle in the world’, it makes a great and interesting attraction for an afternoon visit or indeed as an excursion from London.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
Edinburgh is without doubt the most visited city in Scotland and no visit would be complete without exploring Edinburgh Castle; it has been part of the skyline since the 12th century. The prison cells, said to be extremely haunted, are one of the most fascinating parts of your journey through the castle, although the entire building from the Great Hall to the Stone of Destiny will definitely pique your interest.
With many thousands of fascinating buildings to visit across the UK, no trip here will be complete without learning about just some of the extensive history we have experienced. These buildings are just an example so get out there and explore!