Things to do | Heritage | Stately homes

Stately homes

See how the other half live

Blenheim Palace Source:Chris Guise

Blenheim Palace

Chris Guise

Once upon a time, stately homes were the exclusive privilege of royalty and landed gentry. Fast-forward a few hundred years, these spectacular country pads make for a great day out – each with a unique mix of history, architecture and modern-day glamour.

Like your stately homes with a side of Hollywood glamour? Head to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, which you might recognise as Mr Darcy's home Pemberley, from 2005's Pride and Prejudice. It's also starred in The Duchess alongside Keira Knightley, and The Wolf Man with Anthony Hopkins and Benicio del Toro. Or there's the beautiful Burghley House in Lincolnshire, which doubled as a little piece of Rome in The Da Vinci Code.

Maybe you'd like to admire the work of England's greatest gardener 'Capability' Brown? Make sure Blenheim Palace is at the top of your list. Not only is it a World Heritage Site and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, it's also home to over 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland – said to be Brown's masterpiece.

For something a little more exotic, head to Longleat in Wiltshire, where you'll find the UK's first safari park, set in the grounds of one of the most beautiful stately homes open to the public. And it's not the only one – Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire is also home to its very own safari park.

How about a soundtrack to accompany your visit? Many of our stately homes double as fantastic concert venues. Take Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, also known as the ‘stately home of rock’, or Audley End House , the home of the English Heritage Picnic Concerts .

With hundreds of stately homes all over Britain open to the public, you're spoilt for choice. The hardest decision you'll have to make is where to start.