10 stunning stately homes to visit in Somerset

Tyntesfield, near Bristol (c) JeremyTaylor / Getty Images

Tyntesfield, near Bristol (c) JeremyTaylor / Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

There’s no better way to while away an afternoon than wandering around a stately home with pretty gardens. It’s time to start planning your next day trip - we have gathered some of the most stunning places to visit in Somerset

Clevedon Court

Home to the lords of the manor of Clevedon for centuries, Clevedon Court dates back to the 14th century and stands as a wonderful throwback to the medieval period. The terraced gardens were first laid out by former resident Sir Abraham Elton and have been kept beautiful ever since.

It's a must for history buffs living locally; especially to appreciate the remarkable display of Eltonware pottery and collection of Nailsea glass. Many recommend visiting the neighbouring National Trust managed property, Tyntesfield.

Tyntesfield

Truly breathtaking upon first sight, Tyntesfield is a stunning example of gothic Victorian architecture and sits within 540 acres of parkland, woodland, champion trees, formal gardens and kitchen gardens. The huge landscape is perfect to keep little ones entertained and the grounds are dog-friendly too.

Built to serve as a home to the Gibbs family in 1843, the once inaccessible house is now open for exploration by visitors and the ornate Gothic carvings inside are particular pleasing to see.

Montacute House

The grand Elizabethan Montacute House is surrounded by beautifully-kept gardens which are maintained to reflect the changing seasons.

There's plenty to see and do; from the Long Gallery, which is the longest of its kind in the country, housing over 60 Tudor and Elizabethan portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery to tree swings and pretty views of the deer park.

Dunster Castle

You might not expect to find a Mediterranean garden in the heart of the Somerset countryside but prepare to be amazed by the diverse range of exotic plant life at Dunster Castle. Sitting atop a wooded hill, the castle looks formidable from the village below and once you reach the top you can expect impressive views towards the Bristol Channel, Quantock hills and up to the moors of Exmoor.

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The castle itself is a dramatic and historic building that is over 1000 years old and you can even take a train, the Dunster Castle Express, and arrive in style. A castle has existed in its position since Norman times, and was a lavish country home to the Luttrell family during the 19th century. There's plenty of history to discover and a guided tour by the knowledgeable National Trust staff is recommended.

Temple of Harmony

With just the name, the Temple of Harmony entices visitors to see what it has to hold.

A replica of the Temple of Portunous in Rome, it was built in 1767 on the grounds of Halswell House in Goathurst near Bridgwater, and the gardens were made into Georgian pleasure gardens. Halswell House is surrounded by 450 acres of land which visitors can peruse at their leisure, absorbing the history of this magnificent place.

Barrington Court

With stunning orchards and rolling gardens, the historic Barrington Court was built in 1674 and is open for all to visit and appreciate its uniqueness. Without wall hangings, portraits, furniture or trinkets, the manor house now sits completely empty leaving visitors able to admire the intricate wall panelling and imagine all the history the house experienced. If only walls could talk!

Abundant flowers and orchards can be expected in the Court's gardens, and the walled White Garden, Rose and Iris Garden and Lily Garden were influenced by renowned horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll, with playing fountains, vibrant colours and evocative scents.

Bishop's Palace

The 800 year old medieval Bishop's Palace which has been the home for bishops of Bath and Wells since it was built, has over 14 acres of luscious gardens to explore. Don't forget your camera - you can expect a fantastic view of nearby Wells Cathedral.

Surrounded by a picturesque moat, with their own resident swans, visitors can cross a flagstone drawbridge, walk under the portcullis and immerse themselves in the history the Palace boasts. Bishop's Palace also hosts a number of events throughout the year including concerts, festivals and alfresco cinema and theatre performances, plus much more.

Orchard Wyndham

The medieval manor house and accompanying gardens are open on specific days throughout the year and showcase fascinating architecture in the building and beautiful gardens surrounding it.

Need to know: Check the website for times and book a guided tour around the gardens and house of Orchard Wyndham.

Lytes Cary Manor

While the gardens are bursting with beautiful, bright colour over the summer, Lytes Cary Manor is a delightful place to explore whatever the season. The estate boasts topiary and herbaceous borders, perfectly manicured hedgerows and community allotments which are great inspiration for green-fingered enthusiasts.

After exploring the mediaeval manor house, enjoy light refreshments in the tea room or bring-your-own sandwiches in the picnic area.

Forde Abbey House and Gardens

Spanning 900 years, Forde Abbey has enjoyed a rich and varied history, including its role as home to Cistercian monks, 19th century philosophers and politicians, and now to the Kennard family who work tirelessly to preserve the beautiful abbey and 30 acres of award-winning surrounding gardens. There's plenty to see and do while visiting - and we can't forget that the Abbey is home to the country's highest powered water feature.

The grounds of Forde Abbey regularly become home to a number of events including alfresco cinema screenings and theatre performances, festivals (including Toby Buckland's Harvest Festival), fairs, concerts and plenty more.