We were most fortunate to be in the area on the one day a week that this property opens to the General Public [Tuesday]. It is only open for conducted tours and not free flow visits. We were welcomed by the custodian and spent the next hour on a detailed tour of the four ground floor rooms. There is so much to see in the Hall, Library, Lounge with Conservatory attached and Dining Room, that we could easily have spent a lot longer there. The house was rebuilt on the site of the previous one in 1803 to a design by John Nash, who did a lot of work next door at Attingham Park. At around that time the Park was landscaped by his colleague Humphry Repton,who was also involved in Attingham Park. The Burton family have lived on the site since the 14th Century and everything in the house originates from the family. The style is Tudor Gothic and the interior has Plaster Fan Vaulting in beautiful condition and the stained glass windows are magnificent. Nothing was too much trouble for our very knowledgeable guide who then took us outside to admire the circular Game Larder and Ice House. We also visited the Chest Tomb of Edward Burton who died in 1558, but was not permitted to be buried in Shrewsbury Church as he was a Protestant. What a memorable visit we had!
We spent a most enjoyable day here and were very impressed with the knowledgeable Guide that took us on a tour of the house, which lasted around 70 minutes (optional0. If you prefer you can wander around on your own. The Tea room is very good and with reasonable prices, a pot of coffee is £1.90 and freshly made sandwiches £3. We spent time in the Gift Shop which had a good choice of local items.
The gardens are extensive and well kept and one can spend a whole day at the property very happily. Do not forget the Butterfly House, which is included in the Admission Charge and will particularly appeal to children.
I am an American descendant of the Ruggles family who came to Boston in 1634. We have been to Spains Hall twice, both times honored to meet Sir John, who has since died. The home and grounds are beautiful, the 5 acre rose garden is exquisite. It is truly an English treasure. We took the train from London to Braintree, and rented a car. Taxis are also available. The village of Finchingfield is like a picture postcard, and the local church and pubs are well worth a visit. Everyone friendly and welcoming.
The house is truly amazing for a number of reasons. Firstly it is almost in 'as new' condition. Obviously some soft furnishings are showing signs of wear but otherwise the house is as it would have been and would, in fact does accommodate residence, albeit in a caretaker manner. The ingenious contraptions that are evident and the extravagance of a very wealthy owner, abound. It will take at least 1 hour to visit the house, much much more if you examine every room in detail. The gardens, or to be more realistic, estate could occupy all day. On our visit the weather was less than clement, but a 6 mile drive around the perimeter, on a one way road gives an idea of the vastness. Coupled with around 40 miles of footpaths to explore would take days not hours. May and June are recommended to appreciate the extensive Rhododendron display, which I will return to experience. An amazing house and well worth a visit, especially if you are a National Trust member and therefore get in for free, otherwise quite expensive but probably worth the cost for the opportunity to spend a whole day.
I went on a visit to Kenilworth Castle on Saturday the 3rd September. The site was absolutely amazing it was like being taken back in time, I just wished that it was not ruined so I could see everything but I loved it and the garden especially was great, to me it was history back to life. Thanks to my teacher and the English Heritage, who showed us around.
My husband and myself went to Port Lympne on a wet showery day. We were unable to see the elephants as one was poorly and the safari ride had to go on a different route. There were a lot of steep hills to go up,so wear walking boots when you go. A good day out, but not the best park we have been to by far. We wont be going back again.
A unfinished mansion in the valley of Woodchester with huge parklands surrounding including 5 man made lakes. On open days the mansion is run by volunteers with tours of the mansion regularly usually lasting an hour and a half. The mansion was left halfway through building and the workers just downed tools. The mansion includes its own Chapel which was almost finished when left but weather has tarnished this very interesting throughout. It is owned by Stroud District Council and leased to Woodchester Mansion Trust. There is a minibus shuttle operating on open days with no extra charge.
I visited Highclere last Wednesday and it superb and the setting was stunningly beautiful. The guides, restaurant staff etc. were all exceptionally pleasant and helpful. However, I do feel that the restaurant was totally inadequate for the numbers endeavouring to use it - in fact if you chose a hot meal, it was cold by the time you got a seat.
And the queues for the ladies' toilets were something - if you had been told about the length of delay to actually get your foot inside the outer door, you would have thought it was a total exaggeration, but not so. If the Castle is to continue as an attraction for the public, serious thought and consideration must be given to the limited restaurant facilities and the number of available toilets must be increased.
What a gem of a place to visit, no hassle or tours just browse at your pace in what is a magical personal place. Food in the Laird's larder is excellent and service really good. Even the gardener was friendly.
Visited this weekend. A real gem of a country house and probably the most access I've ever had to any heritage property I've visited. With the knowledgeable guides including one chap that had worked for 16 years at the property based in the Billiards Room - you really feel the history of this fantastic family home.
Would happily visit again and if you've never been and are in or around Doncaster. Go visit - you won't regret it. Thanks to all the guides in the rooms who made our trip so memorable - you do a great job and myself and my girlfriend really appreciated it.
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!
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