Houses to visit in Britain, from modest dwellings to grand mansions.  Houses that have limited, or no, public access may be occasionally included if they are judged historically or architecturally significant.

Through cloisters and gardens – a visit to Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

For some, Lacock Abbey will always be associated with the invention of photography; for others, it is the Tudor-Gothic-Victorian house that gets the juices flowing; for me, the real pleasure was in wandering through cloisters and gardens. It was September and a stroll beyond the inevitable National Trust shop took us past pastel-shaded cottage-garden style …

Through cloisters and gardens – a visit to Lacock Abbey Read More »

Robert Burns, an’ a’ that

Tam o' Shanter

What is all the fuss about Robert Burns? Robert – Robbie or ‘Rabbie’ – Burns was a prolific poet and lyricist, who died more than 200 years ago.  He is Scotland’s favourite bard, still revered throughout the land, the world over by those of Scottish descent – and, in fact, by many non-Scots as well.  …

Robert Burns, an’ a’ that Read More »

Churchill’s Chartwell

Chartwell, Churchill's home

Winston Spencer Churchill (1874-1965) was one of the greatest Englishmen that ever lived, and a brilliant man.  Now, before anyone gets all hot and bothered about him being an imperialist, racist, capitalist, aristocrat, enemy of the working-class, opponent of women’s suffrage, self-publicist, reckless adventurer, glutton and all the other dreadful and unfashionable characteristics he may …

Churchill’s Chartwell Read More »

Lawrence of Arabia’s bolt-hole

Clouds Hill, T E Lawrence, Dorset

A tiny cottage, close to the Dorset HQ of the Royal Tank Regiment at Bovington Camp, was once owned by one of Britain’s most fascinating and enigmatic figures, T E Lawrence – also known as Lawrence of Arabia.  The cottage is called Clouds Hill and it was built in 1808 as a forester’s or labourer’s …

Lawrence of Arabia’s bolt-hole Read More »

A day at Castle Howard

Castle Howard, Yorkshire, south view

Yorkshire’s Castle Howard has no dastardly legends to keep you awake at night; there is no obvious sign of blood seeping out of its mellow stonework.  It sits, in innocent splendour, a stately home in English Baroque and Palladian style, created for the vanity of its owners, a palatial celebrity famous for – well, being …

A day at Castle Howard Read More »

The vanished world of Witley Court

Witley Court from the south

The wind and rain blow arrogantly through the empty shell of Witley Court. There are puddles in the earth-floored entrance hall, where the Prince of Wales had been among many rich and powerful Victorian house guests. The hand-woven Persian silk carpet and exquisite statuary have long gone; there is no trace of the brass-railed balcony …

The vanished world of Witley Court Read More »

Queen Victoria’s Osborne House

Osborne House, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's home on the Isle of Wight

Royal Osborne House is unlike most palaces and stately homes you will ever visit. There is no lengthy history, no convoluted ownership; Osborne House was the creation of Queen Victoria and her beloved husband the Prince Consort, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.  They designed it as their personal seaside retreat and family home on the …

Queen Victoria’s Osborne House Read More »

From a house in the clouds to a fort

Thorpeness, meare, House in the Clouds, Suffolk

We are in the east of England, on the Suffolk coast.  The town of Aldeburgh was once a thriving Tudor port; that’s where we’ll find the fort. And Thorpeness, well – Thorpeness was purpose-built in the 20th century – and that’s where we’ll find our house in the clouds. Few people now will have heard …

From a house in the clouds to a fort Read More »

Lennon and McCartney’s childhood homes

Lennon, McCartney, childhood homes, Liverpool, Mendips, Menlove Avenue, 20 Forthlin Road

John Lennon lived at Mendips, 251 Menlove Avenue, Woolton, Liverpool L25 from 1945 until around 1963.  Paul McCartney lived at 20 Forthlin Road, Allerton, Liverpool L18 from 1955, also until around 1963. A short discourse on being a Beatles fan With some people, you’ll always remember where you were, and what you were doing, when …

Lennon and McCartney’s childhood homes Read More »

Barrington Court: bring on the empty mansion

Barrington Court, Tudor house, National Trust, visit, Somerset

From the moment we stepped into its kitchen garden, everything about Barrington Court made me want to linger. But don’t visit to savour the great moments that took place at this beguiling Somerset estate, because, so far as I know, none did. Nor should you go to take a peek at the sumptuous interiors and …

Barrington Court: bring on the empty mansion Read More »

Tracking down Britain’s secret SOE

Arisaig, Lochaber, SOE

The tiny village of Arisaig, nestling on an inlet along the beautiful Morar peninsula, has a wonderful little museum.  The Land, Sea and Islands Visitor Centre tells visitors all about the local flora and fauna in this relatively remote part of West Scotland. But it also includes a fascinating section on one of Britain’s clandestine …

Tracking down Britain’s secret SOE Read More »

Christopher Wren did not live here

Christopher Wren, St Pauls, view, Millennium Bridge

And neither did Catherine (or Katherine) of Aragon.  What?!  Let me explain…my London reader may have seen a plaque – not one of the official, blue, ones, but an altogether more elaborate, individual, affair – on the wall of 49 Bankside, London SE1.  And it proudly declares, in fancy script: “Here lived Sir Christopher Wren …

Christopher Wren did not live here Read More »

Scroll to Top