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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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DUNCOMBE PARK

The seat of the Duncombe family since 1711, when the house was built by Thomas Duncombe (born Thomas Browne). His descendent, Charles Duncombe, was created Lord Feversham in 1826. The house is not open to the public, but 450 acres of parkland, gardens and nature reserve are. There is also a bird of prey centre on site.

Location/Address: Helmsley
County: North Yorkshire
Post Code: YO62 5EB
Main Historic Period: Georgian
Useful Website Address: Duncombe Park's website
Tip/Nearby: Helmsley Castle, Rievaulx Abbey, Castle Howard
Primary Management: Independent – Historic Houses member
DUNHAM MASSEY

Enormous mansion, originally Jacobean, built on the site of an earlier manor house and castle, and packed with treasures, including a significant collection of silver and notable works of art. The estate was given to the National Trust by the 10th, and last, Earl of Stamford and includes a 300 acre park (with deer) and sumptuous gardens. The house was used as a hospital during WW1 and by the military during WW2, when there was a US training camp and then a POW camp in the grounds. Entry to the house is by timed ticket only.

Location/Address: Altrincham
County: Cheshire
Post Code: WA14 4SJ
Main Historic Period: Georgian
Tip/Nearby: Tatton Park, Lyme Park
Primary Management: National Trust
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
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 (who is reputed to haunt it).    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
HIGHCLERE CASTLE

Home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, Highclere is a predominantly Victorian mansion set in extensive grounds in Hampshire - though, confusingly, the postal address is for neighbouring Berkshire. The house was redeveloped in Jacobean style by Sir Charles Barry, the architect responsible for the Houses of Parliament, from an earlier Georgian mansion which, itself, replaced a Tudor House. Before that, a medieval palace stood on the site, property of the Bishops of Winchester.  The property has earlier roots, however, and there is an Iron Age fort in the grounds.

The 5th Earl sponsored the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb by Howard Carter in 1922.

Highclere was used as the location for the TV series Jeeves and Wooster and, more recently, played the title role in the highly successful Downton Abbey.

NOTE: Highclere has limited opening - check details before making a special trip.

Region:
Location/Address: Highclere Park
Newbury
County: Berkshire
Post Code: RG20 9RN
Main Historic Period: Victorian
Useful Website Address: Highclere Castle's website
Tip/Nearby: About 5 miles south of Newbury
Primary Management: Independent – Historic Houses member
The Jewel Tower

The Jewel Tower is a small, but fascinating, remnant of the medieval Palace of Westminster. It was built in the 14th century and once housed Edward III's treasures. It was subsequently used to store records from the House of Lords - including notable Acts of Parliament - and went on to be the National Weights and Measures Office.

Region:
Location/Address: Abingdon Street
County: London
Post Code: SW1P 3JX
Main Historic Period: Medieval
Link to featured article: London's medieval Jewel Tower
Tip/Nearby: Opposite the Houses of Parliament, adjacent to Westminster Abbey.
Primary Management: English Heritage
KENSINGTON PALACE

In 1689 William III bought the Jacobean mansion Nottingham House from his Secretary of State, the Earl of Nottingham, and commissioned Christopher Wren to extend and improve it. Thus it became Kensington Palace, a favourite residence of successive monarchs until the death of George II in 1760. Queen Victoria was born and spent much of her youth here.

Today, Kensington Palace contains the offices and London residences of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as well as The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, The Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Visitors can walk in the footsteps of royalty in Victoria's re-imagined childhood rooms, see the magnificent King's State Apartments and the famous Sunken Garden.

Region:
Location/Address: Kensington Gardens
County: London
Post Code: W8 4PX
Main Historic Period: Stuart
Useful Website Address: Historic Royal Palace's website
Tip/Nearby: Kensington Gardens, Royal Albert Hall, Holland Park, Notting Hill
Primary Management: Historic Royal Palaces
KEW PALACE

Once known as ‘the Dutch House’, Kew Palace is the smallest of all the royal palaces.  It was originally built in 1631 as a private house for a wealthy London silk merchant, Samuel Fortrey.  George II and Queen Caroline were first attracted to ‘little Kew’, thinking it a perfect lodging for their three eldest daughters.  After them, several generations of Georgian royalty used Kew and nearby Richmond Lodge as weekend retreats.  George III, Queen Charlotte and their 15 children enjoyed a relatively simple domestic routine at Kew, the palace rang with laughter and fun, however in later years the atmosphere darkened as family rivalries become more intense and relationships soured. Later the house became a refuge for George III, when he fell ill and was thought to have become mad. The King survived being administered powerful emetics and laxatives, freezing baths and leeching.   He was also put into a strait-jacket if he refused to co-operate.

Highlights include the princesses’ bedrooms, Queen Charlotte’s bedroom and the kitchens.  You can also visit Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, a rustic country retreat in the grounds.

Entry to Kew Palace is included in the ticket price for Kew Gardens.

Region:
Location/Address: Royal Botanic Gardens
Kew
Richmond
County: Surrey
Post Code: TW9 3AE
Main Historic Period: Georgian
Useful Website Address: Historic Royal Palaces website
Tip/Nearby: Within Kew Gardens. Not far from Richmond Park and Hampton Court.
Primary Management: Historic Royal Palaces
KNOLE

One of the largest houses in England, Knole is allegedly a 'calendar house', with 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and 7 courtyards - though only a proportion of the house is open to the public. It was built as an archbishop's palace, but passed into the hands of the Sackville family during the reign of Elizabeth I, and it is still their home. Knole is also packed with precious artwork and furnishings.

In 2012, the National Trust launched an extensive six-year conservation programme.  This has also opened parts of the complex previously unavailable to be seen by the public.

Knole is situated in the middle of a medieval deer park, which is open to all and is wonderful to wander in at any time of year.

Region:
Location/Address: Sevenoaks
County: Kent
Post Code: TN15 0RP
Main Historic Period: Tudor
Tip/Nearby: Igtham Mote, Penshurst Place
Primary Management: National Trust
Lambeth Palace

Lambeth Palace has been the official London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury for 800 years. It is famous for its gardens, and its extensive ecclesiastical library, which holds records dating back before the Norman Conquest and the archives of the Archbishops of Canterbury. Architecturally, the Palace is famous for its Tudor gate, Morton's Tower, but also has a medieval chapel and Stuart Great Hall. It is not, generally, open top the public, but guided tours available - see the website.

Region:
Location/Address: Lambert Palace Road
Albert Embankment
County: London
Post Code: SE1 7JU
Main Historic Period: Tudor
Useful Website Address: Lambeth Palace website
Tip/Nearby: Garden Museum next door, Tate Britain and Houses of Parliament on the other side of the river
Primary Management: Church authorities
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