Stately homes and palaces

A grand house or estate, normally associated with royalty or the aristocracy; but it’s an imprecise term!

The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Unlike Balmoral, which is a private home, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is the Monarch’s official residence in Scotland.  And parts of it are open to the public.  So, assuming you don’t get to visit palaces too often, you should pop in when you’re next in town.  It is situated at the eastern end […]

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The gardens at Sandringham

Sandringham, the Queen's Norfolk house

Sandringham is the private Norfolk home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  Unlike the monarch’s other properties, such as Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, which are owned by the Crown Estate, Sandringham is one of two residences that the Queen personally owns – the other being Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire.  She inherited Sandringham from her

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Blickling Hall, visit Britain

Blickling is an extensive estate and stately home in Norfolk, with walks, gardens and a splendid house to enjoy wandering around.  People will tell you that it was Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, but don’t believe a word of it.  Anne was indeed probably born at Blickling, in 1501 or 1507, but there is no visible

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Ten things you really should do in Britain

Tiger Inn, East Dean

There’s no shortage of things to do and see in Britain.  But if you were visiting for the first time, what would you recommend?  Here are a few arbitrary suggestions, in no particular order, just to get the ball rolling: Get out of London Many visitors to Britain head straight for London.  It is one

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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

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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

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Formidable Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle, visit Edinburgh, Historic Scotland

You can’t imagine Edinburgh without Edinburgh Castle – it is one of the City’s landmarks, dominating the skyline, perched on a seemingly impregnable, daunting, volcanic rock at the end of The Royal Mile.  On a bright day, perhaps at festival time and viewed through the colours of Princes Street Gardens, it is ambiguous; fearsome yet

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Linlithgow – Scotland’s Royal Pleasure Palace

Linlithgow-detail from James V's fountain

It’s hard to forget your first sight of Linlithgow Palace.  Off the merkat, up cobbled Kirkgate, past St Michael’s, through the impressive outer gateway – and the palace fills your vision.  It is massive, literally awesome, so obviously a ruinous shell – and yet there’s a niggling hint of what it once was, or might

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The Loveliest Castle in the World?

This is Leeds Castle, nowhere near the city of Leeds in Yorkshire, but located some 240 miles to the south, in Kent.  It was once described as “the loveliest castle in the world” by historian Lord Conway and understandably, but slightly tediously, Leeds Castle ensures his words have not been forgotten – even if most

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Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire (rear view)

A complete working historic estate of 900 acres in rural Staffordshire, Shugborough has everything an aristocratic country pile should have – imposing Georgian mansion, parkland, formal gardens, a walled garden, farm (including labourers’ houses, watermill, workshops and rare breeds), river walks, monuments, servants’ quarters, stables, a brewery…enough to please most day trippers, and even keep

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Althorp, Northamptonshire

Althorp (sometimes pronounced ‘Awltrup’) is the Spencer family pile in Northamptonshire.  Who amongst us lesser mortals had heard of either the estate or the family before Lady Diana Spencer shot into public awareness like a blazing comet?  Perhaps, some may have vaguely thought, the family was something to do with that other lot, the Marks. 

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