A secret gem! Very atmospheric.
We met our two grandsons here in early August and spent a very good few hours there. There are two free Car Parks adjoining the site, together with free toilets. The Castle site is split into two parts with the majority being a large grassy area, ideal for picnics. The Castle Buildings/Ruins themselves are run by English Heritage and there is a charge for exploring this part of the site, with its rooms and many steps leading up to the spectacular roof area with views of 360 degrees, covering Portsmouth Naval Dockyard and The Isle of Wight. A comprehensive Audio Guide is provided to accompany the tour. The Ticket Office incorporates an imaginative Gift Shop greatly appreciated by our two grandsons. Back in the open grassed area we entered an Old Augustine Priory which is now an Inter Denominational Church, with a tempting Tea Shop adjoining it, which helped to complete a most enjoyable visit.
We visited Croft Castle in Mid July with a party of National Trust Members and were made very welcome. The house was one of the first N.T. Properties in the country to trial the Atmospheric Idea in 2 of the rooms. These were darkened to make them appear as they would have done in the 19th Century, with candles and soft music of the period. As a result of the experiment this idea has been adopted this year throughout many N.T. Properties. There were knowledgeable guides in the rooms and we were given a 20 minute talk on the History of the house in the Dining Room.
The facilities at the property were good although the Tea Room was let down by poor organisation of staff, with some visitors having to wait some 25 minutes to be served. The same bottleneck as we experienced on our visit last year!
We had some difficulty finding the footpath to the Iron Age Hill Fort of Croft Ampney around a mile away. Better signposting is needed there, but once reached gives a heavenly view well into Wales and the Black Mountains. Some of the trees in the parkland are over 350 years old and Chestnut, Oak and Beech abound.
This was our 3rd visit to Croft and we enjoy it more each time. Incidentally there is a good 2nd hand bookshop there as well as a Gift Shop offering locally produced goods.
We had heard good reports about the property from our daughter who loved it and we were not disappointed. We were given an in-depth tour of the house and chapel by the very knowledgeable owner, David Lowsley-Williams. He spoke to our party of 35 enthusiastically for 2 hours and we came away feeling we knew all there was to know about the History of the Estate. He told us amusing stories and we could have happily listened to him for another hour.
During the last 50 years I have been around dozens of National Trust and Private Properties and cannot remember a visit that I have found so fulfilling in all that time. The only slight criticism I would make is the lack of a tea room, which we soon solved with a visit to the nearby town of Tetbury.
If you get the chance to take a tour of Naworth guided by owner Philip Howard then I strongly advise you to take it. Not only is the building itself fascinating but the history of the Howard family as narrated by Philip really draws you in and has you desperate to know more. Yes, this is the same family that built Castle Howard in Yorkshire but you if want to know how and when the two branches went their separate ways you need to take the tour. A highlight of our trip to Cumbria.
On a visit to the estate today, it was a great disappointment to find nothing of interest, not even the house, but a large accumulation of farm buildings, an empty area for a car park, on speaking to a tractor driver to be told that the walks were not much good just a lot of woods, absolutely nothing of interest, the web site indicates the house and gardens a place to visit. We were also told by another man who was working that there was nothing of interest to see or do and you had to book an appointment to see the house, the whole place had a look of neglect, so I would not recommend it to anyone until some changes have taken place. I think the website should be definitely updated and some public facilities available, such as a tea room and toilets, plus some indication of what is there and where it is!
Exbury Gardens have gone down in history - my memory is fresh as were the splendid masses of orchids, the wonderful trees and shrubs, wet with the early morning dew, the song of the birds greeting yet another day and, yes, a sense of peace came to us all as we searched for bird's eggs and collected leaves from the trees blowing in the breeze. It was the year 1944 - we were 10yrs old, and invited there by our dad R.N. Officer Ernie Grimsted to spend the weekend at HMS Mastodon, as he was then Master at Arms. He played the organ for us in Exbury Church, and we played putting on the church lawns - and so we were able to forget the enemy planes overhead and the odd one which crashed on the gardens. Life continued there despite so many obstacles, gardeners work so hard all year round to give us the continued joy sense of peace and well being, see you all again very soon God willing.
Stoke Park pavilions is a magical place, we visit every year and, apologies to the Chancellors, it almost feels like our own secret garden. Few people know about it and it is the perfect place to while away a few hours in August if you enjoy historical gardens. It isn't huge but has a lovely intimacy and slightly faded grandeur with its formal garden, orchard, herb garden as well as the beautiful Inigo Jones Pavilions and sweeping views. A gem.
My daughter and I visited Belton House yesterday and absolutely fell in love with the place. We had a fabulous guided tour of the basement (where the servants lived and worked) and afterwards a tour of the main house. What a cosy place it is. It’s a home.....a real home, not just a museum. It has atmosphere. You can imagine the real people who lived there. The play and picnic areas are fantastic. My grandsons had an absolute ball!! Beautiful grounds, clean and tidy. Wonderful!
Compton Verney is a great looking place from a distance and not without charm, but I wish I could say the same for the poor quality, tired looking staff. They are very rude, unhelpful and if you have children, then in my opinion it's a poor choice for a family day out. So Compton Verney, it's a No from me!
Smedmore is so peaceful! Lovely to know that it will be open on the 3rd and 4th of September, 2011.
I was so pleased to be able to have a tour of Balfour back in 08 and one of the actual owners gave us the tour. We also had tea in the castle main dining room, fantastic. I have to admit the cakes and biscuits surprised me as they had cold tiny pancakes, they called them cold tea scones. The odd thing was they were so dang good with the homemade jams and sauces made on the castle grounds. The grounds themselves are worth the trip. The garden is without a doubt the most amazing one I have seen north of my home province in Newfoundland Canada. Even compared to some of the tropical places I’ve been they would give them a run. Never have I seen apples growing like a vine on the castle garden walls. The flowers are just mind blowing. I love it so much I will be going back in Sept 11 seeing as I have seen it in may want to see it in fall. Definitely worth the trip to Orkney. The owners at the time were just so welcoming, made us feel like we were coming home. Totally LOVED IT. I'LL BE BACK.
I visited this stately home with my partner and friends on my birthday due to rain changing our plans. For once I was glad of the bad weather, as otherwise I would perhaps not have found this lovely place. Anyone who loves art and architecture not to mention beautiful furniture can happily spend an enjoyable afternoon here admiring it. The experience is enhanced by being able to get up close and personal with the collection and by the wonderfully knowledgeable volunteers who share their enthusiasm for the place while telling you its history.
Visited the Banqueting House last August and was truly pleasantly surprised. A rare gem - the Rubens ceiling was amazing. My wife and I spent a very relaxing and enjoying time soaking in the atmosphere.
As a new Volunteer Room Steward at Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, since June 2011, I am delighted to serve visitors in this well-conserved house. In conserving the country house as it was found when English Heritage bought it in 1990, it is possible to appreciate the subtle changes made throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Mrs Sylvia Grant-Dalton, who lived in the house for 56 years until her death in 1988, was keen to retain as much of the original character of the house as possible, although a leaking roof caused a great amount of damage.
As a recent History graduate of the University of Derby, I am eager to learn more from the Steward files on each room in order to be able to answer as many questions as possible that visitors ask and help individuals appreciate the country house a little better. I write a regular blog on some of my experiences on Brodsworth Hall to create better understanding and promote myself as a volunteer with English Heritage.
We had a most wonderful time at Althorp. The Diana Exhibition is poignant without being mawkish and very understated and tastefully done. The house and gardens, whilst stupendous, come across nevertheless as a well loved family home. Worth every penny and a privilege to visit.
Excellent. Built for a King, granted to the Lady in Waiting to his first Queen, granted to the friend of that King and lived in by his friend's wife, this house is worthy of being on the ten top sites of Britain list, should such a list exist.
Grimsthorpe is a Tudor house on the outside, a medieval castle at one side, a Tudor home at the other, and inside it shines a light on the renaissance, the Jacobean and the Georgian rebuilding and decorations. However, the main thing this house has is style and it is very beautiful. I normally am disappointed when a Tudor house no longer has Tudor as its heart, but the house is very tasteful in the use of all of the styles from the Tudor to the early Victorian in the China Room, blue in colour and a very peaceful place. Some Tudor aspects remain, the chapel and the long gallery for one and the fireplaces and high ceilings and the intimate rooms are all Tudor aspects. The great windows are from the same era, but the later rooms and the windows complement those built by Brandon well. The long range makes you feel a little lost, but that is part of the charm of the house and it is still worthy of its owners and the King it was built to please.
The gardens and the other attractions are well worth a visit and there is something for everyone. The information boards outside give a good history of the house and show what Grimsthorpe looked like in Duchess Katherine's day. The disabled parking is very close to the house and the guides are full of information and a lot of tales of the ancestors. Many famous and lovely paintings on the walls, including one of a young Princess Mary Tudor, daughter to Henry VIII. A very fine statue based on Roman God Mars in the gardens, copied from one in Rome and decoration from Laycote Abbey. Great cafe and great facilities and plenty of toilets.
A good day out for everyone.
My wife & myself visited this property on a very wet June Sunday recently,so, due to the weather were unable to explore the extensive gardens but concentrated on the house. After a coffee in the N.T.run restaurant we joined a Below Stairs Tour of 50 minutes duration led by one of the very knowledgeable volunteers. These are included in the Entrance Fee and are extremely worthwhile.[The first year they have run them]
After lunch in the Restaurant we ventured into the house where we spent the next 2 hours soaking in the atmosphere & chatting to the enthusiastic and well informed Room Stewards. The National Trust have introduced a theme on King Edward VIII,as he was a frequent guest at the house up to his abdication.with the owner of the house at that time Perry Brownlow being very closely involved with the abdication, including staying with his wife frequently at Fort Belvedere, Sunninghill & accompanying Wallis Simpson to Cannes at the height of the crisis.
We found the whole visit very inspirational & look forward to exploring the gardens next time.
Without question Britain's finest stately home. An outstanding art collection which can be experienced on a one-to-one basis when you stay in the house or visit as a day visitor during season (HHA Friends and Members FREE). This place understands hospitality in its truest sense and appeals to all ages and backgrounds. Superb restaurant and gallery in the Granary which is open all year round and is FREE.
Wassand Hall is a hidden gem - the building and grounds are magnificent, the staff could not be more helpful and the refreshments delicious - the only problem is the limited number of days when it is open!
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