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Abbey Park is Leicester’s premier park and opened in 1882. It includes gardens, lakes, a café, sports pitches and facilities for bowling, tennis and boating. It is a place for families and lies about a mile north of the city centre. The River Soar divides it into two distinct parts – a Victorian park with shrubberies, boating lake and miniature railway, and the western part which includes the remains of the 12th century Leicester Abbey, where Cardinal Wolsey died and was buried, and the ruins of the 17th century Cavendish House, a mansion which was Charles I’s HQ before the Battle of Naseby. It was destroyed and plundered by Royalist troops.
Abbotsford was the extraordinary home of the 19th century novelist Sir Walter Scott, who was born in 1771 and died at Abbotsford in 1832. The works of ‘Great Scott’ included 'Waverley' and 'Ivanhoe'. Scott also popularised tartan, saved the Scottish banknote and rediscovered his country’s Crown Jewels ('the Honours of Scotland'). Abbotsford is in the Scottish Borders and was built - or developed - as a family home, as well as Scott's workplace and somewhere to keep his collection of curios, artefacts and books.
Image credit: Historic Houses
Acorn Bank offers an attractive garden and partially open 17th century red sandstone manor house. The estate at Acorn Bank dates back to the medieval order of the Knights Hospitaller. The main attraction now is the 17th century walled garden, with its fascinating medicinal and culinary herbs, pretty formal area, traditional orchard, woodland walks and industrial past complete with restored working watermill dating from the 16th century.
Sitting in acres of Northamptonshire countryside, Althorp has been the residence of the Spencer family for 500 years and is one of England's grand stately homes. It is packed full of treasures, including some fascinating portraits. The original Tudor house is still there, beneath the later restorations and refurbishments, but the overall feel of the place is distinctly 18th century. The gardens are lovely and regular events are held, including an annual literary festival. Althorp is, sadly, best known for the association with possibly the most famous Spencer, Lady Diana, whose last resting place is on an island in the Round Oval lake.
Althorp has limited opening - it is essential to check their website before making a special trip.
Anne of Cleves' House formed part of Anne’s annulment settlement from Henry VIII in 1540. Anne of Cleves was Henry's 4th wife - divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived. The house is a fine example of a late medieval timber-framed Sussex building, dating from the late 15th century with additions and improvements made over the next 200 years. Some of the rooms have been furnished in contemporary Tudor style. The house also contains the Museum of Lewes History and the Wealden Iron Gallery. There is a small garden, also inspired by the Tudor period, and a cafe. The house and museum is managed by the Sussex Archaeological Society.
Arbury Hall is an Elizabethan manor house, originally built on the ruins of a 12th century Augustinian Priory and transformed into the Gothic style by Sir Roger Newdigate during the second half of the 18th century. It has been the seat of the Newdegate family for over 450 years and is the ancestral home of Viscount Daventry. The house stands in the middle of acres of 18th century landscaped gardens, within even more acres of lakes and parkland. Inside, the house is renowned for its fan vaulted ceilings with plunging pendants and filigree tracery.
Arbury’s main claim to fame is that George Eliot, aka Mary Ann Evans, was born at South Farm on the estate in 1819. Arbury Hall was immortalised in her book 'Scenes of a Clerical Life'.
The hall and gardens have limited opening to the public and are also available for corporate events and filming. Film credits include the film Angels and Insects starring Mark Rylance, Patsy Kensit, and Kristin Scott Thomas and the BBC TV series Land Girls.
The wider Arbury Estate includes most of Astley village and Astley Castle, which is available for hire through the Landmark Trust.
Image credit: Historic Houses
Arniston is 6000-acre estate 11 miles from Edinburgh which has been home to the Dundas family for almost 450 years. The present Palladian style mansion was designed by William Adam and replaced a former Tower House. The house features a world class art collection, with pieces by Raeburn, Nasmyth and many more, as well as collections of china and period furniture. Arniston welcomes visitors. Tours of house and gardens are often conducted by family members.
Image credit: Historic Houses
Audley End is one of the largest Jacobean mansions in England, but is smaller now than when it was first built (1605-14) by Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk. It stands on the foundations of a Benedictine Abbey and is named for Sir Thomas Audley, Howard's grandfather, Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII, who was granted the abbey in 1538. It was briefly owned by Charles II. The 1st Baron Braybrooke commissioned Capability Brown to landscape the grounds and Robert Adam to design new reception rooms. It was sumptuously redecorated in Jacobean style in the 1820s. Now owned by English Heritage, highlights include the Staterooms, Nursery, Stables (complete with horses), Service Wing and Gardens.
Baddesley Clinton is a place with stories, a picturesque and charming moated manor house and estate dating from the 15th century, set in lovely gardens and surrounded by beautiful Warwickshire countryside. For 500 years it was home to the Ferrers family, staunch Roman Catholics, and it comes complete with a priest hole hidden in the medieval sewer. Its survival is largely due to its eccentric Victorian owners, Marmion and Rebecca Ferrers and their very close friends, Lady Chatterton and Edward Dering, collectively known as 'the Quartet'.
Balliol is one of the colleges of Oxford University. It was founded by John de Balliol in 1263, has occupied the same site ever since and claims to be the oldest college in Oxford, and the world. Its attractive buildings are predominantly Victorian, however. Balliol's widow Dervorguilla of Galloway, established a permanent endowment and their son, John, was King of Scotland. Balliol has an impressive list of alumni, which includes writers, politicians and scientists. A few random examples: Boris Johnson, Robert Peston, Herbert Asquith, Harold Macmillan, Edward Heath, Aldous Huxley, Graham Greene and William Beveridge.
Visitors can tour the grounds and some of the buildings, except when college events take place.
This is a growing listings directory – over 950 entries have been listed as of September 2022.
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