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Britain, places to visit, attractions, heritageThis is the place to search for places and things of interest to visit in Britain, by name, location, type, keyword – or just have a browse.  It is a growing directory – over 780 entries as of June 2020.  Most entries have links for further information.

Stately homes and palaces

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WOBURN ABBEY

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.

Location/Address: Woburn
County: Bedfordshire
Main Historic Period: Georgian
Useful Website Address: Woburn Abbey's website
Tip/Nearby: Woburn Safari Park, Bletchley Park
Primary Management: Independent – Historic Houses member
BALMORAL CASTLE

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.

Region:
Location/Address: Crathie
Nr Ballater
County: Aberdeenshire
Post Code: AB35 5TB
Main Historic Period: Victorian
Useful Website Address: Balmoral Castle's website
Primary Management: Independent – Historic Houses member
BISHOP’S PALACE, WELLS

Part-ruined home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years, the palace dates from 13th century and is surrounded by a moat, upon which swans glide gracefully; they are trained to ring a bell when they're hungry.  Croquet is played on the lawn.  The highlight, though, is the gardens.  These are a delight to wander in and include the well pools that give the city its name.

Region:
Location/Address: Wells
County: Somerset
Post Code: BA5 2PD
Main Historic Period: Medieval
Useful Website Address: Bishop's Palace website
Tip/Nearby: Wells Cathedral
Primary Management: Church authorities
AUDLEY END

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.

Location/Address: Off London Road
Saffron Walden
County: Essex
Post Code: CB11 4JF
Main Historic Period: Stuart
Useful Website Address: English Heritage listing
Tip/Nearby: Saffron Walden
Primary Management: English Heritage
CHATSWORTH

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.

Location/Address: Nr Bakewell
County: Derbyshire
Post Code: DE45 1PN
Main Historic Period: Stuart
Useful Website Address: Chatsworth's website
Tip/Nearby: Between Bakewell and Chesterfield
Primary Management: Independent – Historic Houses member
Tower of London

Arguably one of the best attractions in London, the Tower has been so many things - Norman fortress, medieval palace, prison, place of execution - even a zoo. There is so much to see, not least the Crown Jewels. Don't let the queues put you off, allow plenty of time and soak up the atmosphere.

Region:
County: London
Post Code: EC3N 4AB
Main Historic Period: Medieval
Link to featured article: Visit the Tower of London
Useful Website Address: Historic Royal Palaces website
Tip/Nearby: Tower Bridge, Tower Hill tube station
Primary Management: Historic Royal Palaces
LINLITHGOW PALACE

Magnificent ruins of a late medieval/16th century royal palace, overlooking a loch. The 'pleasure palace' for several Scottish monarchs, it was also the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots. It takes little imagination to picture it as it was, full of the nobility in their finery, with its wide stairs, elegant windows, rich furnishings and a fountain running with wine. Was this Scotland's Hampton Court?  It could have been.

Linlithgow has another claim to fame - it was the birthplace of Scottish Nationalist politician Alex Salmond, who also grew up in the town.

Region:
Location/Address: Kirkgate
Linlithgow
County: West Lothian
Post Code: EH49 7AL
Main Historic Period: Tudor
Link to featured article: Linlithgow - Scotland's Royal Pleasure Palace
Tip/Nearby: Between Edinburgh and Stirling. Adjacent parish church of St Michael's is also worth a visit and has an unusual tower.
Primary Management: Historic Scotland
PALACE OF HOLYROODHOUSE

The Palace of Holyroodhouse was built around an abbey founded by King David I in the 12th century, which had royal chambers attached to it. James IV (1488-1513) decided to upgrade the chambers to a palace, and this work was added to by subsequent monarchs. The Palace is the British monarch's official residence in Scotland and Her Majesty Her Majesty The Queen visits during Holyrood week, at the end of June/beginning of July. When The Queen is in residence, the Scottish variant of the Royal Standard is flown.

Parts of the Palace are open to the public, though opening arrangements are subject to change, sometimes at short notice, and you should check before making a special journey. Highlights of a visit include the magnificent State Apartments and the fascinating Mary, Queen of Scots', chambers. You can also walk round the ruins of Holyrood Abbey and parts of the gardens.

Region:
Location/Address: Canongate
The Royal Mile
Edinburgh
County: Lothian
Post Code: EH8 8DX
Main Historic Period: Stuart
Tip/Nearby: Opposite the Scottish Parliament building. You may also want to pop into the Queen's Gallery.
Primary Management: Royal Collection Trust
HAMPTON COURT PALACE

The origins of Hampton court are medieval.  However, it is famously the palace created by Thomas Wolsey, cardinal, Lord Chancellor of England and friend of King Henry VIII.  The palace was 'acquired' by Henry and is often associated with him and Anne Boleyn.    It has been a royal palace ever since and was extensively remodelled by Sir Christopher Wren on behalf of William and Mary in the late 17th century.  Hampton Court is a highly popular visitor attraction which is also famous for its annual flower show.

Region:
Location/Address: Hampton Court Road, East Molesey
County: Surrey
Post Code: KT8 9AU
Main Historic Period: Tudor
Useful Website Address: Historic Royal Palaces website
Tip/Nearby: Richmond Park
Primary Management: Historic Royal Palaces
DUNROBIN CASTLE

Dunrobin is the largest great house in the northern Highlands and has been home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland for more than 700 years. Though dating from the 13th century, the present house is largely Victorian, built in Scottish baronial style with a nod to a French chateau. It has been used as a hospital and school, but is still the Sutherland family and clan home. There are also extensive gardens and grounds.

Region:
Location/Address: Golspie
County: Sutherland
Post Code: KW10 6SF
Main Historic Period: Victorian
Useful Website Address: Dunrobin Castle website
Tip/Nearby: Dornoch Cathedral
Primary Management: Independent – Historic Houses member
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