Top ten National Trust Properties around England

Lyme Hall, Disley

Lyme Hall, Disley - Credit: Archant

Come rain or shine the National Trust can offer a great day out. From stately homes, glorious gardens and natural beauty spots, to quirky museums - with more than 300 properties to choose from, it’s easy to find your personal favorite. In no particular order, we’re sharing our current top-ten memorable visits.

LYME PARK: Stockport, Manchester 15 miles S.E. of Manchester but light-years from the thriving metropolis - sits the magnificent mansion and sporting estate with a history of entertaining politicians, socialites and... flocks of Jane Austen fans. Ever since the home was used as the exterior of Pemberley, the seat of Mr Darcy in the 1995 BBC costume drama, Pride and Prejudice, Lyme Park has been on the Austen trail. Inside, some of the original Elizabethan features remain and Mortlake tapestries mix with medieval stained glass. Outside, the deer park is great for country walks and long runs, away from the city centre. And yes, the famous Lake that propelled actor Colin Firth, aka Mr Darcy, to fame & fortune. PETWORTH HOUSE: West Sussex The 17th-century mansion is steeped in history and packed with world renowned treasures. Offering links to an array of instantly recognisable names, from Baron’s and Dukes to the artists Van Dyke, Grinling Gibbons and Turner. Access is chiefly on one floor, but what a floor it is. Sculptures, portraits, furniture and the Trusts number one treasure - the head of Aphrodite from 400 BC. You can get close to the masterpieces here - take an introductory/highlights tour, pop into a medieval chapel, enjoy a woodland walk, visit the lake or wander around gardens designed by ‘Capability’ Brown. WADDESDON MANOR: Buckinghamshire Four generations of Rothschilds have lived in the extravagantly turreted French Renaissance style chateau - so you expect it to be packed with a fabulous collection of everything fine. English paintings hang beside fine French furniture, set in panelled rooms that once graced grand Parisian houses. A stroll around the formal gardens takes you past sculptures, fountains and eccentric 3D displays of plants formed into the shape of tropical birds, butterflies and five-metre high royal crowns - this is where quirky Britain meets formal France. CHARTWELL: Kent Sir Winston Churchill purchased Chartwell and set about extensive renovations. Unable to meet the running costs, a group of grateful colleagues purchased the estate, allowing Churchill and his family to remain for over 40 years. The home is more or less how it was at the time of the PM’s death in 1965, providing insight into how the Statesman lived. A large number of items from State gifts to the PM’s Order of the Garter are exhibited upstairs. Outside, at the bottom of the garden, a large collection of Churchill’s own paintings are displayed in what was his sizable studio. MONTACUTE HOUSE: Somerset The quintessential Elizabethan manor is stunning. Set in well established gardens in the pretty village of Montacute, south Somerset, the manor offers commanding views of the surrounding countryside. This Elizabethan gem, is often used as a film location, credits range from Sense & Sensibility to Hound of the Baskervilles... and it’s choc full of treasures too. Stained glass windows, needleworks and, worth a visit in it’s own right, the National Portrait Gallery has a fine collection of English Kings, Queens - including a cracker of King James 1, recently return home to Montacute House thanks to a bequest from a National Trust guide who once worked at the house. WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER: Kent An iconic image of England, the chalk cliffs at the very edge of our island nation can’t fail to bring out your patriotism. The National Trust purchased a section of the white cliffs in 2012, providing access to a number of coastal paths along the dramatic cliff edge - with a bonus view reaching out towards the French coast. Enjoy a variety of birdlife, meadow plants and maybe even a sing-song... chances are, somebody will be out there admiring the view, and quietly humming, ‘There’ll be Bluebirds Over’... a song made famous during World War 2. LACOCK VILLAGE & ABBEY: Wiltshire Lacock is as pretty as an English village should be. Owned by the National Trust, it’s devoid of parking meters and satellite dishes. You may recognise it as the 19th century Cheshire village from the TV series the Cranford Chronicles. The Abbey, actually a quirky country house, set in pretty woodland, that sits alongside the river Avon, is complete with cloisters and furnished rooms. You can also visit the Fox Talbot exhibition - the story of a photographic pioneer. The Sign of the Angel, just one of the inviting village pubs, is famous for a resident ghost and a recipe that made it’s way into a Delia Smith cookery book. AVEBURY MANOR: Wiltshire Thanks to a BBC TV series, this 16th century manor house - in an enchanting setting, within the mystical stone circle of Avebury - has recently been transformed. Timed tickets for a tactile experience, where visitors are encouraged to pick up the exhibits, flop down on the straw mattress of an Elizabethan four poster and pull up a chair in the dining room. If you prefer to visit before too may hands have disrupted the furnishings, sign up for the1st tour of the day. Fill time before your visit walking amongst the stones or enjoying tea in the grounds. BATEMANS: East Sussex The Jacobean house was the long-time home of author Rudyard Kipling. Rooms remain as he left them - but that’s not to say that the house is stuffy - it has a warm welcoming feeling and it’s easy to wander around the many links to his famous works. Original plates from The Jungle Book hang on the wall, and memorabilia, including the Alphabet Necklace from the Just So Stories, along with Kipling’s Nobel Prize, are on display. Soak up the idyllic country setting, then wander over to the watermill and pick up a bag of stone-ground flour to savor the taste of Batemans back at your own home. BASILDON PARK: West Berkshire A once derelict Georgian mansion has been renovated and revived into a fine country home, complete with all 1950’s mod cons. A short walk through woodland leads to the impressive house that spans time - from ornate Adam’s style ceilings to a retro1950’s kitchen. Today the home is enjoying another revival - thanks to the Downton Abbey effect. Used as a location in the 2013 TV Christmas Special - visitor numbers have surged, and with the possibility of Lord Grantham and the Crawley family returning to film more scenes, Basildon Park is once again basking in the limelight.


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