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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 750 entries as of February 2020.  Most entries have links for further information.

Stately homes and palaces

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NATIONAL MOTOR MUSEUM & BEAULIEU

Beaulieu is a stately home as well as home to the National Motor Museum. The estate has been in the hands of the Montagu family since the 16th century and is based around the ruins of the medieval Beaulieu Abbey. The National Motor Museum tells the story of motoring and the collection includes some 250 vehicles, old and not so old, cars, motor cycles and racing cars. As well as the museum and the abbey, a visit to Beaulieu can include the palace/house, the extensive gardens, at least two exhibitions - at the time of writing there are exhibitions of 'the World of Top Gear', featuring many original vehicles from the TV show, and an exhibition about SOE - the secret Special Operations Executive - who used Beaulieu for training during WW2. On top of that, there's a monorail and loads of things going on, like a vintage bus chugging about, offering rides.

Location/Address: Beaulieu
New Forest
County: Hampshire
Post Code: SO42 7ZN
Main Historic Period: Modern
Useful Website Address: Beaulieu's website
Tip/Nearby: Buckler's Hard
Primary Management: Private - open to the public
SHUGBOROUGH

The Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire has been the seat of the Earls of Lichfield (family name Anson) since 1831 – the 6th Earl still has apartments there. Arguably, Shugborough’s most famous son was the 5th Earl, the internationally renowned photographer Patrick Lichfield, who died in 2005. His private apartments can be visited as part of a tour of the house. The mansion is set in 900 acres of idyllic parkland, there's a historic farm with rare breeds - and the garden is a peach. If you're a conspiracy lover, Shugborough is also famous for alleged associations with the Holy Grail. The property has been owned by the National Trust since the 1960s but leased to and managed by Staffordshire County Council. In 2016, the Council handed the property back to the National Trust, who decided to close it until March 2017 to enable upgrading works to take place.

Location/Address: Milford
Nr Stafford
County: Staffordshire
Post Code: ST17 0XB
Main Historic Period: Georgian
Link to featured article: Shugborough
Tip/Nearby: Cannock Chase
Primary Management: National Trust
BUCKINGHAM PALACE

Buckingham Palace is the administrative HQ of the Monarchy and has been the Monarch's official London residence since 1837. The Duke of Buckingham acquired a house on the present site in 1698, which he replaced with a new 'Buckingham House'. This was acquired by George III in 1761 as a family residence for his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their children, and extensively refurbished and modernised. George IV commissioned John Nash to turn the house into a Royal Palace. The familiar east wing, with its central balcony, was added during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Visitors can see three aspects of Buckingham Palace.

1) The State Rooms.  The 19 sumptuous state rooms, where guests are received and entertained, are generally open to the public during summer months. They include paintings, porcelain and furniture from the royal collection.
2) The Queen's Gallery, which hosts a programme of changing exhibitions of artwork, mostly from the royal collection, is open most days.
3) The Royal Mews is the stables responsible for the horses that pull the royal carriages as well as where state vehicles are kept and looked after. It is open most days, but closed in December and January.

All three venues have separate entrances on Buckingham Palace Road (the road running along the left of the Palace as you face it).

Region:
County: London
Post Code: SW1 1AA
Main Historic Period: Georgian
Tip/Nearby: Nearest station - Victoria main line and underground. St James's Park underground.
Primary Management: Royal Collection Trust
BANQUETING HOUSE

This is where the English Parliament executed the King of Great Britain and established a republic in England and Wales.  It was also a place of extravagant Jacobean entertainment.  Banqueting House is a surviving relic of the great Palace of Whitehall, which was originally the medieval London home of the Archbishops of York and known as York Place. When the once powerful Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop of York, fell from grace, King Henry VIII grabbed his London home, enlarged it, renamed it Whitehall, and it became a favourite of subsequent Tudor, and Stuart, monarchs.  The current, spectacular, Banqueting House (there were predecessors) was designed by Inigo Jones, completed in 1622 and provided a venue for excessive celebration. Underneath it is a vaulted drinking den, used by James I for decadent goings-on.  Banqueting House has a breathtaking ceiling, probably commissioned by King Charles I in 1629-30 and the only surviving in-situ ceiling painting by Flemish artist, Sir Peter Paul Rubens.  It would have been one of the King's final sights on 30 January 1649, before stepping outside to meet his end on a scaffold that had been specially erected so that everyone could see their king die.

Region:
Location/Address: Whitehall
County: London
Post Code: SW1 2ER
Main Historic Period: Stuart
Useful Website Address: Website of Historic Royal Palaces
Tip/Nearby: Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, St James's Park
Primary Management: Historic Royal Palaces
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
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
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
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
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
TATTON PARK

Tatton Park is the former estate and home of the Egerton family. Set in 1,000 acres of deer park are 50 acres of gardens, including a Japanese garden, the Tudor Old Hall, kids' playground and the 18th century mansion. There are extensive facilities, making it a popular place, and events are held regularly - including concerts featuring leading stars and the annual Royal Horticultural Show in NW England.

The estate was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1958 and is managed and financed by Cheshire East Council.

Location/Address: Knutsford
County: Cheshire
Post Code: WA16 6QN
Main Historic Period: Georgian
Useful Website Address: Tatton Park's website
Tip/Nearby: Quarry Bank Mill, Dunham Massey, Jodrell Bank
Primary Management: Local Authority
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