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Hundreds of open garden events take place in Britain every year, mainly during the summer and mostly, though not exclusively, in rural villages. The gardens belong to private homes and are often quite modest. The open garden event normally involves 10 gardens or so, sometimes more, sometimes less, and can either be a local event in its own right, or part of a larger village show of some kind. If you enjoy looking at gardens, a local open gardens can be an enjoyable way of spending an hour or three. Entry fees are usually just a few pounds. Check the UK National Directory for events near you.
Balmoral is a 50,000 acre estate and the private Scottish home of the British Royal Family. It was purchased by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852, close to the Highlands they both loved. The current castle is new - Victoria and Albert had it constructed between 1853 and 1856; the old castle was then demolished. There is limited public access to the grounds, gardens and exhibitions (including access to the castle ballroom only) between spring and early summer, when the Royal Family is not in residence. Apart from the ballroom, the castle is not open to the public. Cottages in the grounds can also be hired.
Drum Castle was seat of the Clan Irvine and in the Irvine family for 650 years, from 1325, when it was granted to William de Irvine by Robert the Bruce, until 1975. It has a rich history, 17th and 19th century additions and alterations, and is surrounded by gardens and an arboretum.
Woburn Abbey is one of the great treasure houses of Britain. It began life as a Cistercian abbey. The estate was given to John Russell, later Earl of Bedford, by Edward VI in 1547 and his ancestors became the Dukes of Bedford. Woburn Abbey is still the home of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, but has been open to the public since 1955. The Palladian mansion contains a world-famous art collection, including works by Canaletto, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Lely, Rembrandt, Tintoretto and Van Dyck, as well as collections of porcelain and silver. The estate also includes gardens, a deer park and the Woburn Safari Park.
A grand Georgian house set in acres of parkland with formal gardens and an interior that includes works by Van Dyck and Gainsborough. George Baillie, an officer in William of Orange's army, commissioned William Adams to build the house in 1725. Only two wings were finished. The work was completed in 1778 by William's son, Robert, who linked the two wings and finished everything off in a sort of castle style. Mellerstain is said to be one of Scotland's finest stately homes.
Lyme is a large estate that was owned by the Legh family from 1388 - 1946. The house dates from the late 16th century, but is mainly 17th and 18th century in style. The library displays the Lyme Caxton Missal - an early printed book published by William Caxton in 1487. Outside are huge formal gardens, surrounded by an enormous deer park. Plenty to see, plenty of places to walk. Lyme featured as 'Pemberley' in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in which Colin Firth emerges from the lake.
Tatton Park is the former estate and home of the Egerton family. Set in 1,000 acres of deer park are 50 acres of gardens, including a Japanese garden, the Tudor Old Hall, kids' playground and the 18th century mansion. There are extensive facilities, making it a popular place, and events are held regularly - including concerts featuring leading stars and the annual Royal Horticultural Show in NW England.
The estate was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1958 and is managed and financed by Cheshire East Council.
Mighty medieval fortress of the powerful Neville family, acquired and modernised by the Vanes in the 17th century , picturesque Raby Castle is still the home of Lord Barnard. It is open on a seasonal basis and, as well as the vivid history of its owners, offers opulent interiors and artwork, a collection of horse-drawn carriages, deer park, walled garden, tearooms and woodland play area.
"One of England's finest medieval castles".