8 pretty Somerset stately homes and gardens to visit this Christmas
- Credit: Craig Stone
Magnificent architecture, rich in history and truly stunning, stately homes and gardens provide a delightful day out for visitors. Somerset boasts plenty, and we bring you 8 of the most special locations to visit this Christmas
With its towering walls of glass, ham stone and surrounding scenic gardens, Montacute House is a place of beauty and wonder. Sir Edward Phelips was behind the impressive architecture of the building, while William Arnold was responsible for building a house that expressed wealth, ambition and showmanship.
There's plenty to explore at Montacute House; marvel at over 60 Tudor and Elizabethan portraits in the Long Gallery or explore the beautiful gardens against a misty winter backdrop. From December 20-January 1 (except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), the Lord of Misrule will be entertaining crowds with stories and mischief, while archaic ensemble displays and performances, from mummers plays to the Montacute dancers can be enjoyed.
Sat upon a steep hill, among a forest of ash and fir trees, rests Dunster Castle, an imposing structure with a medieval gatehouse and ruined tower. The castle that stands today became a lavish country home during the 19th century for the Luttrell family, who lived there for over 600 years.
Soak in the history of Dunster Castle and the beauty of its gardens this Christmas, with plenty of festive events taking place in December. Enjoy Dunster by Candlelight on December 6 and 7 where the Castle will be decorated for Christmas with live music performances, local crafts and festive gifts, and delicious festive food. Little ones can also look forward to a visit from Father Christmas in December (dates can be found on the National Trust website).
Dating back almost 900 years, Forde Abbey and its surrounding 30 acres of landscaped gardens, is a truly mesmerising spot to explore, with interesting transformations captured throughout its long time in existence.
Forde Abbey is preparing to get festive with an enchanting illuminated trail around the gardens from December 15 to December 22. The long borders and champion trees will bask in beautiful colour, and create a magical glow around the Abbey and Gardens. Inside the house, enjoy carolling, mulled wine and seasonal treats. Father Christmas will be paying a visit between December 18 and 22 with a sackful of gifts - say hello before he starts his preparations for the big day!
Just a short drive from Bristol lies the stunning Victorian landmark of Tyntesfield House, nestled among gorgeous gardens and parkland. Built to simply serve as a family home for the Gibbs family, there's plenty to unearth about the four generations of the family whilst you admire the location.
Marvel at the intricate Gothic carvings that adorn the house, and embrace the spectacular winter atmosphere as the mist lingers in the air over the landscape. Over the festive period, experience Christmas past as you join the Gibbs family and their servants for 'A very Victorian Christmas'. Enjoy exploring Tyntesfield after closing time, festive mysteries, choir music and a visit from Father Christmas himself.
- 1 Win a holiday for two on the Isles of Scilly
- 2 10 of the best restaurants for al fresco dining in Norfolk
- 3 35 great Surrey pubs with beer gardens and terraces
- 4 6 great walks near Belper
- 5 12 outdoor dining experiences in Surrey
- 6 16 of the best spots for al fresco dining in Essex
- 7 16 of the best beer gardens in Essex
- 8 Sussex pubs with beer gardens to visit this summer
- 9 6 great walks near Dunsop Bridge
- 10 12 of the best places to eat al fresco in Yorkshire
Barrington Court, a Tudor manor with breathtaking gardens and working orchards, has been in the Lyle family since the 1920s where it was saved from ruin and renovated to the structure standing today. The estate is unlike many; it's free from collections and furniture allowing visitors to let their imaginations run wild with what may have gone on over the years there. The famous garden designer Getrude Jekyll was consulted on the garden's layout, and her inspiration can still be admired today.
From Saturday, November 1, embrace the festivities as Barrington Court will be full of festive decorations, twinkling white lights and the gorgeous aroma of mulled cider. Father Christmas will even be making an appearance on the weekends to hand out gifts to little ones.
The home of the bishops of Bath and Wells for over 800 years, Bishop's Palace in Wells is a stunning, medieval residing surrounded by 14 acres of beautifully kept gardens and a picturesque moat.
Two weeks of festive fun can be enjoyed at Bishop's Palace this Christmas. From December 8-23, visitors can marvel at the splendour of the Palace beautifully decorated for Christmas, as well as a Christmas themed family trail through the Palace and Gardens and musical performances at the Chapel. Little ones can also meet Father and Mother Christmas - ensure to book in advance.
Renowned for its impressive views over the beautiful Bath skyline, a stroll round the 18th century Prior Park Landscape Garden is a perfect way to while away a winter afternoon. Gather your loved ones, wrap up warm and soak in the beauty of the gardens, and cross the stunning Palladian Bridge, one of four of that design in the world.
Throughout weekends in December, and on Boxing Day, families can soak up the beauty of Prior Park Landscape on a Christmas trail. Visitors young and old can discover what lies behind the 24 doors of the advent calendar themed trail.
For a fun-filled evening, set in a stunning location, look no further than a Christmas in style party at Kings Weston House, Bristol. Designed by Sir John Vanburgh, who also designed Blenheim Palace near Oxford, Kings Weston House is a treasure of 18th century features including marble fireplaces, high ceilings and a suspended central staircase.
The grandeur of Kings Weston House would make for the ultimate Christmas party - see more details here.
There's plenty more to see and do in the county this Christmas...