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Brockhole was built in the late 19th century as a country house and estate for Manchester silk merchant, William Gaddum and his wife, Edith - a cousin of Beatrix Potter, who was a frequent visitor. Since 1969, it has been a Lake District National Park Centre. It offers a range of family activities, including a treetop trek, zip wire, adventure playground, boat hire, mini-golf, woodland walks and gardens. It also includes a cafe, exhibition area and shop.
Burghley is a grand 16th century house and estate on the edge of the charming East Midlands town of Stamford. The house was built by Elizabeth I's chief advisor and Lord High Treasurer Sir William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, and is still lived in by his descendents. The house contains an extensive collection of artwork and painted murals, including Verrio's 'Hell Staircase' (seen in 'The Da Vinci Code') and the hall has a magnificent hammerbeam roof. There are extensive gardens, statues and a fine park. Burghley is also famous for its annual Burghley Horse Trials, held in the autumn (best avoid visiting then!).
Calke is a mansion and estate on the site of a 12th century Augustinian abbey. The present Palladian style mansion is a consequence of reconstruction work dating from 1701, built around an Elizabethan house. The estate ultimately came into the hands of the Harpur-Crewe family and was acquired by the National Trust in a state of decay. The Trust has preserved the house pretty much in the condition it was found, packed full of artwork and stuffed animals, with an appearance largely unchanged since the late Victorian period - including the children's' nursery. It is a curious and fascinating time capsule. Outside are gardens, outhouses and extensive grounds, including a nature reserve.
Note: Entry to the house is by timed ticket.
Castle Howard is an 18th century Baroque stately home in North Yorkshire, one of the grandest and most over the top in England, with 145 rooms and set in 1,000 acres of gardens and parkland. It is owned by the Howard family, and has been for over 300 years. The house was started for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle in c1699, designed by John Vanbrugh (his first commission) and Nicholas Hawksmoor, and took about 100 years to complete. It is built on the site of a ruined medieval castle and the original estate covered 13,000 acres - which included several villages. In addition to being able to tour the house and gardens, visitors can enjoy various exhibitions, and activities take place frequently.
Castle Howard was famously used for the 1980s TV series and 2008 film, Brideshead Revisited.
The Chalice Well is a natural spring, with a red hue to the water, now surrounded by peaceful gardens, at the foot of Glastonbury Tor. The spring has been in use for at least 2,000 years and, inevitably, has mystical and religious associations; it is popular with pilgrims of all sorts (remember, this is Glastonbury). According to one legend, Joseph of Arimathea hid the chalice that had caught the blood of Christ at the crucifixion in the Chalice Well.
There is no parking at the Chalice Well - park nearby and walk. It is on the A361 Chilkwell Street junction with Wellhouse Lane.
Chatsworth is one of Britain's great stately homes. It is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, whose family, the Cavendishes, has owned the 35,000 acre estate since the 16th century, when the first house was built. The house is famous for its magnificent Baroque interiors and works of art from ancient Egypt, Rome, the great masters - and more modern artists. Outside, there are acres of parkland and lovely gardens to explore, including a maze to get lost in. It is famous for its cascade, a large water feature with water tumbling down a long series of steps - which dates from the 17th century. It is also famous for its Emperor Fountain. Events are held throughout the year, including concerts and outdoor theatre.
Chirk is a picture-book medieval fortress as well as a sumptuous home, with wonderful gardens and a spectacular wrought-iron entrance gate. Roger Mortimer, Marcher Lord, began the castle in 1295 as one of King Edward I's chain of castles along the Welsh/English border. Since 1595, it has been owned by the Myddleton family. From 1910-1946, it was leased to Lord Howard de Walden and was scene of lavish entertaining in the 1930s.
A tranquil city garden on the site of the former 13th century Franciscan church of Greyfriars. It was the burial place of four queens and was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. A replacement church, designed by Christopher Wren, was destroyed by bombing in 1940, though the west tower still stands.