Manor houses, mansions, stately homes or simply large country estates abound in the English countryside. England has lots and lots of old mansions scattered in remote countryside areas, surrounded by beautifully groomed grounds, lakes, rivers and forests. These beautiful places that have been featured in many movies, are filled with history, intrigue and lots of gossip. Visiting any of the large English manor houses requires some planning, but your efforts will be rewarded by a very relaxing and insightful visit. Let’s explore together my favorite English country estates.
What to Expect When Visiting English Manor Houses?
Are there still manor houses in England? Well, the answer depends if you are looking for manor houses still functioning the same way as in the past. If that’s what you are looking for, then you won’t find classic English manor houses. However, visiting a modern day English manor house or stately home is a different experience than simply touring major tourist attractions. When one of these beautiful country estates is open for visitors, everything is ready. All the details, from the way the employees are dressed, the coffee shop to the grounds are well prepared and sparkling clean.
Plan to spend an entire day, when visiting. Most English manor houses have very large private art collection that will surprise you. From paintings, to sculpture and lots and lots of silverware and exquisite porcelain dishes, art takes center stage inside and many times outside these beautiful estates.
Map of Stately Homes in England
Most country estates are part of an English national charity organization like English Heritage or National Trust. This means that you can easily find visitor information and directions online. Now, let’s travel to some of my favorite English country stately homes. Here is a list list of English manor houses, at least my favorite ones, listed from North to South.
1. Chatsworth House Derbyshire
Beautiful view of Chatsworth House from main access road.
See my photos from Chatsworth House
Located inside Peak District National Park, Chatsworth House is my favorite English manor house. Chatsworth House boasts beautifully groomed grounds with an Italian style waterfall that comes down a long hill which has been carefully and symmetrically terraced. In addition, Chatsworth House really surprised me with its amazing art collection that contains many sketches by Peter Paul Rubens and some Rembrandt paintings.
Plan Your Trip to Chatsworth House
For planning a visit to this beautiful country house, visit the official Chatsworth House website.
You can also look for budget hotels in the Peak District National Park area.
Coming from Manchester? Book a beautiful tour of the Yorkshire Dales & Peak District which includes a visit to Chatsworth House.
The easiest way to get to Chatsworth House is to rent a budget car from Birmingham, or anywhere else in England.
2. Wollaton Hall Nottingham
Wollaton Hall is a spectacular Elizabethan mansion in Nottingham
See my photos from Nottingham
Wollaton Hall was built in 1580 on a small but prominent hill in Nottingham. The present building houses the Nottingham Natural History Museum which has a large collection of minerals, birds and animals.
3. Holkham Hall Norfolk
Holkham Hall is one of the finest examples of a Palladian revival style of architecture
See my photos from Holkham Hall
Holkham Hall is one of England’s finest examples of the Palladian revival style of architecture. The house was constructed in the Palladian style for Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester by the architect William Kent, aided by the architect and aristocrat Lord Burlington. Lavishly decorated, Holkham Hall is a beautiful English manor house and worthy tourist destination.
4. Sandringham Norfolk
The Sandringham Estate is the summer retreat of the Royal Family in Norfolk
See my photos from Sandringham
We are coming to my second favorite English manor house. Sandringham is the royal residence in Norfolk. This beautiful stately home is mostly known as the place where King George VI made the famous radio proclamation after England declared war to Germany in World War 2.
However, besides the recent history, Sandringham is a beautiful property. We visited during the worst downpour I have ever experienced…for three full hours the rain came down unceasingly. Good thing we had a lot to see on the inside.
5. Burghley House Lincolnshire
Beautiful view of the south side of Burghley House seen from the lawn in front of the house.
See my photos from Burghley House
Burghley House is a grand sixteenth-century manor house near Stamford, Lincolnshire. We have visited Burghley twice since we loved it so much. Our kids loved the lush gardens and grounds that have lots of friendly deer that are not afraid of coming close to people.
6. Anglesey Abbey Cambridgeshire
Anglesey Abbey, England – The library room at Anglesey is superbly furnished
See more photos from Anlesey Abbey
Anglesey Abbey has a beautiful birch tree forest path that leads to an old mill that you can visit. They still grind wheat to make flour as they used to make long time ago. As you visit Anglesey Abbey, you will get a window in the past as you stroll through the beautiful grounds.
7. Wimpole Hall Cambridgeshire
View of Wimpole Hall from the back
See more photos from Wimpole Hall
Wimpole Hall is the largest manor house in Cambridgeshire and it makes for an easy day trip from Cambridge as it is located nearby. The last owner of the house was Rudyard Kipling’s daughter, Elsie who added most of the current furniture. We enjoyed our visit at Wimpole Hall even though it was evident that the decorations and furniture were from more modern times than the period when Wimpole was built.
If you plan on visiting Wimpole, make sure you also visit Cambridge as it is located only 15 minutes away.
8. Audley’s End Essex
View of the front of Audley End House and the River Cam passing through the property
See more photos from Audley’s End
I stumbled upon Audley’s End manor house one afternoon when I was just driving through the Essex countryside. The beautiful grounds and impressive mansion made me immediately say: we’ve got to all come visit this place!
The following weekend I surprised my wife and I brought her at Audley’s End and she loved it too. Each staff member plays a role in a made up story where their masters are expected to arrive from London shortly. As we toured the kitchen, the dairy and laundry rooms we were filled in with details of British high society life as well as its gossip.
Audley’s End has quickly become our favorite day trip from Cambridge.
9. Woburn Abbey Bedfordshire
Woburn Abbey, England – Beautiful lake and Chinese garden.
See more photos from Woburn Abbey
Built over the ruins of an old abbey, Woburn is steeped into history. Toured by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson before becoming US Presidents, Woburn Abbey is a large complex beautifully maintained. Woburn Abbey has a beautiful garden filled with sculptures and deer roam freely around the estate.
The easiest way to get to Woburn Abbey from London is with a local tour. Woburn Abbey, while close to Cambridge, it is remote enough that you need a car to reach it.
Important Note: Woburn Abbey is undergoing extensive refurbishment and will be closed to the public until 2024.
10. Blenheim Palace Oxfordshire
Blenheim Palace is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill
See more photos from Blenheim Palace
This large manor house is where Winston Churchill was born. It is a large palace with beautiful grounds. Being close to Oxford, Blenheim is a popular tourist attraction and as such it has many activities.
We took the main tour which proved more than enough for our small kids, In addition, we attended the beginning of the gossip tour which was quirky and interesting. However, our kids were too tired to stay through the entire complicated gossip.
Walking Tour of Oxford
If you are planning a visit to this area, you can visit the Blenheim Palace official website. You can also look for budget hotels around Oxford.
Are English Manor Houses Worth Visiting?
Most English stately homes are beautiful buildings with gorgeously manicured lawns, gardens and lakes. A visit to any of these large estates, while not cheap, will provide you with a unique insight into English history and culture. We loved every one of these manor houses, and most of them were fun enough for our young children as well.
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