If you’re able to travel to Britain this autumn, you can retrace the steps of British aristocracy as you explore the opulence of grand stately homes, tranquil gardens and expansive estates. From a well-loved study steeped in history to extravagant riverside mansions complete with pristine formal gardens, there are dream-worthy stately homes to explore all over Britain.
You are encouraged to always check individual attraction websites when planning a trip, as the vast majority of locations now require pre-booked tickets for entry.
For a day spent marvelling at richly decorated halls, romantic rooms and historic gardens peppered with inspiring sculpture, plan a trip to the gem of Derbyshire, Chatsworth House. Envisage walking through the Painted Hall, a grand baroque-style hall that oozes grandeur, or of discovering historic art and tapestries in the State Drawing Room. The gardens are also a dream-worthy spot, with majestic fountains, resplendent blooms and the secret Grotto surrounded by golden autumnal trees to discover. Home to the Cavendish family since 1549, it remains the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire to this day!
Nearby hidden gem: Hardwick Hall
Set amongst stunning views of Snowdonia, along the shores of the Menai Strait, Plas Newydd is the ancestral home of the Marquess of Anglesey. This historic house has roots dating back to the 16th century, with fashionable changes from the 1700s and the art deco era of the 1930s remaining untouched. The rooms provide a glimpse into Britain’s aristocratic past from the Gothic Hall and music room, to the saloon and neo-classical Staircase Hall. Lord Anglesey’s well-used study even comes complete with the lingering fragrance of his cigars! Although the interior is currently closed, the gardens are open to explore, with tickets released every Friday.
Nearby hidden gem: Penrhyn Castle
Oxfordshire’s World Heritage Site, Blenheim Palace, allows you to wander through 300 years of British history, art and architecture, while giving insight into the life of historic figure, Winston Churchill. As well as soaking up the rich history of the Palace State Rooms, you can see the room where Churchill was born and browse the exquisite family library. Nature lovers can imagine strolling through the magnificent formal gardens and stunning parkland, complete with tranquil lake reflecting the fiery red trees and frolicking sheep.
Nearby hidden gem: Stonor
A chance to walk through the ancestral home of Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott, Abbotsford is a historic house to remember. Nestled along the banks of the River Tweed, the Scottish Baronial house was designed by the writer himself, imbuing each stone with a touch of the writer’s famous Romanticism.
Dream of strolling through Sir Walter’s formal Regency gardens, including a fragrant sunken space and charming walled garden. The writer also enjoyed the vast woodland on the estate, home to red squirrels, tawny owls and river-dwelling otters – ideal for a leaf-crunching autumn walk! You can easily lose yourself while exploring the charming chapel, outdoor greenery and the captivating library, where literature fans can lay eyes on rare manuscripts and an annotated poetry book from his childhood.
Nearby hidden gem: Melrose Abbey
An awe-inspiring country house designed by British architect Charles Barry, Highclere Castle will be instantly recognisable to fans of British period drama as the family home of the Crawley family in Downton Abbey. You can imagine exploring the glorious State Rooms, dining room and galleried bedrooms, or climbing the majestic oak staircase. There’s also a fascinating exhibition of Ancient Egyptian artefacts, created by the fifth Earl of Carnarvon who played a prominent role in uncovering Tutankhamun’s tomb!
Nearby hidden gem: The Vyne
Once the home of the Fitzwilliam family, Wentworth Woodhouse boasts the longest façade of any country house in England, standing amid more than 87 acres of marvellous grounds, gardens and parklands. Although the house remains closed at the present time, one of the most interesting aspects of this stately home are the monuments, follies and temples that pepper the grounds, which are open to explore. Built in the 18th century, these fun additions offer a glimpse into the lives of Britain’s aristocracy. The grounds also include a wildflower meadow, ancient trees that glow golden brown in autumn, lush woodland and even an outdoor piano to play on!
Nearby hidden gem: Renishaw Hall & Gardens
Another star of period drama is Lyme Park, used in the filming of the BBC’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Surrounded by gardens, moorland and a 1,400-acre deer park, this grand mansion boasts a spectacular drawing room, stag parlour and restored Victorian library – a spot where you can take a seat and soak up the historic space. Lyme Park’s gardens are also something to behold, with a stunning Italian garden, a collection of exotic trees that come to life with bursts of colour in autumn, and even a tropical oasis in the Orangery.
Thanks to its location nestled on the edge of the Peak District, those dreaming of seeing Britain’s natural autumn colours can drive further into the National Park’s vast golden landscape. Here you can mindfully soak up the rugged scenery of Stanage Edge, Longshaw or Staffordshire Roaches – all top spots for experiencing autumn’s beauty.
Nearby hidden gem: Tatton Park