Mansions, stately homes or simply large 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 British mansions requires some planning, but your efforts will be rewarded by a very relaxing and insightful visit. Read more about 10 of my favorite British country mansions.
What to expect when visiting British mansions?
Visiting an English mansion or stately home is a different experience than simply touring major tourist attractions. When one of these beautiful properties is open for visitors, everything is ready. All the details, from the way the employees are dressed to the coffee shop and grounds are well prepared and sparkling clean. Most British mansions 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 with my favorite British country mansions
Most estates are part of the British national charity organizations, English Heritage and National Trust, which means that you can easily find visitor information and directions online. Now, let’s travel to some of my favorite British country mansions.
1. Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Located inside Peak District National Park, Chatsworth House is my favorite English country mansion. 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.
Chatsworth House, England – Beautiful view of Chatsworth House from main access road.
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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.
2. Wollaton Hall, 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.
Nottingham, England – Wollaton Hall is a spectacular Elizabethan mansion
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3. Holkham Hall, Norfolk
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 beautiful tourist destination.
Holkham Hall, Norfolk – Holkham Hall is one of the finest examples of a Palladian revival style of architecture
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4. Sandringham, Norfolk
The royal residence in Norfolk is Sandringham. This beautiful mansion is mostly known as the place where king Edward made the famous proclamation after England declared war against Germany in world war 2.
Sandringham, Norfolk, England – The Sandringham Estate is the summer retreat of the Royal Family.
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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
Burghley House is a grand sixteenth-century country mansion 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.
Burghley House, England – Beautiful view of the south side of the house seen from the lawn in front of the house.
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6. Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire
Anglesey Abbey has a beautiful birch tree forest path that leads to an old mill that you can visit. They grind wheat to make flour as they used to make long time ago.
Read more about my visit to Anglesey Abbey
Anglesey Abbey, England – The library room at Anglesey is superbly furnished
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7. Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire
Wimpole Hall is the largest house in Cambridgeshire. 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.
Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, England – View of Wimpole Hall from the back side.
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8. Audley’s End, Essex
I stumbled upon Audley End 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!
Audley End, Essex, England – View of the front of Audley End House and the River Cam passing through the property
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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.
9. Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire
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, England – Beautiful lake and Chinese garden.
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Woburn Abbey has a beautiful garden filled with sculptures and deer roam freely around the estate.
10. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
This 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.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England – Blenheim Palace is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill
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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.
Read more about my walking tour of Oxford.
Is it worth visiting country mansions?
Most British mansions 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 British history and culture. We loved every one of these mansions, and most of them were fun enough for our young children.