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This is the place to search for places to visit and things of interest in Britain, by name, location, type, keyword – or just have a browse. It is a growing directory – over 780 entries have been listed as of July 2020. Most entries have links for further information.
Stately homes and palaces
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell and one of the must-see visitor attractions on the West Coast of Scotland. With a spectacular location on Loch Fyne, there has been an Inveraray Castle for around 500 years. The present castle was begun by the 3rd Duke in 1746 and took 43 years to build. Far from a forbidding fortress, Inveraray is a palatial home displaying the clan chief’s wealth and influence – though it does house an alarmingly large collection of armaments. The Duke and Duchess and their family live on two floors of the castle; the remainder is open to visitors, along with gardens and grounds – which include trees planted by, among others, David Livingstone, William Gladstone and Queen Victoria. Inveraray Castle featured as ‘Duneagle Castle’ in the TV programme ‘Downton Abbey’.
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.
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.
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.
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.