Less than an hour from the house, the beautiful old walled Roman town of Chester is well worth a visit. The historic city of Chester is a delightful mix of exclusive stores (with some of the best shopping outside London), and vibrant nightlife - but shaped by 2,000 years of history. Completely encircled by city walls, Chester's most unique feature is the 13th century 'Rows' - two tiers of beautiful black and white half timbered shops, running through the main streets, with the most photographed clock in the UK - other than Big Ben!
Destinations for history hunters include the beautiful Gothic Chester Cathedral and the Roman amphitheatre. With hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, Chester Cathedral is one of the most popular attractions in England's Northwest. Chester is also home to Britain's largest Roman Amphitheatre, built to entertain 7,000 spectators and currently the site of Britain's biggest archeaological excavations (which you can watch)!
Fascinating museums include the Chester Grosvenor – with its extensive collection of Roman artifacts and the Cheshire Military Museum, an interesting and innovative attraction located in Chester Castle, a Grade I Listed Building.
Close to the city is Chester Zoo (Britain's biggest) offering a fun and stimulating day out for everyone, no matter what age or ability. As well as caring for 7,000 animals, representing 500 different species, the zoo boasts award-winning gardens.
Nearby, at the Blue Planet Aquarium you can view awesome sharks through a 70 metre long underwater tunnel, one of the longest in the world.
And if the chic shopping in 'The Rows' is too expensive then try a visit to nearby Cheshire Oaks - the UK's biggest designer outlet village which has over 140 shops with permanent discounts of up to 50%.
Journey time from house - 57 minutes (Route map)
Once described as "the most extraordinary district in the world", the Ironbridge Gorge is still a remarkable, and beautiful, place to visit today. A huge amount of early industry survives as furnaces, factories, workshops, canals and the settlements of Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge, Jackfield and Coalport.
In 1986, the Ironbridge Gorge, including the world famous Iron Bridge of 1779, became one of the first group of 7 UK sites to be awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO. The designation of the Ironbridge Gorge as a World Heritage Site recognised the area's unique contribution to the birth of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the impact of which was felt across the world. It was the achievements of pioneering industrialists including Abraham Darby, William Reynolds and John Wilkinson that led to the Ironbridge Gorge becoming by the close of the 18th century the most technologically advanced area in the world.
There are ten award-winning Museums spread along the valley beside the wild River Severn - still spanned by the world's first Iron Bridge.
For us, the two highlights of the Ironbridge Gorge are the Ironbridge itself and the Blist Hill Victorian Village. Blist Hill has been created by moving historical buildings (which would other wise have been destroyed), brick by brick, and rebuilding them to recreate a typical victorian town. All the key buildings are here: typical homes, businesses and even the village school, furnished exactly as they would have been 130 years ago.
Costumed staff give a warm welcome and a fascinating insight into how life was lived in Victorian times. Exchange your money in the Bank, admire the goods in the Grocers, Bakery and Sweetshop. Find out about curious remedies in the Chemist, and see the printer and candle maker in action. Watch and talk to the craftsmen and costumed demonstrators as they work iron, fashion china and glass, and bring alive the people who lived and worked here. A truly fascinating day out.
Opening times: From Saturday 24 March 2007 - Sunday 04 November 2007 inclusive, sites are open from 10 am - 5 pm.
Journey time from house - 1 hour 3 minutes (Route map)
The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Coach Road, Coalbrookdale, Telford, TF8 7DQ
Admission charges: Passport tickets give entry to all the museums in the Ironbridge Gorge and are £14 for adults, £9.50 for children or £46 for a family ticket.
Lyme Hall and Park -
Location of 'Pride and Prejudice'
Lyme Park was begun in the Tudor period but the present house was transformed by the architect Leoni into an ornate Italian palace in the 1720s. Within the house traces of the Elizabethan core remain, providing a contrast with Leoni's work.
The showpiece staterooms are festooned with tapestries, a fine collectron of English clocks, and carvings by Grinling Gibbons. Yet the interior is a mix of styles. The Elizabethan long gallery has retained much of its original character, and the royal coat of arms stands over the fireplace in the drawing room. Some fine period furnishings are scattered throughout, though little remains to commemorate the Legh family, who owned the house from the 14th century to 1946. In the library are 3 ancient Greek tombstones brought here by archaeologist Thomas Legh in the 19th century.
Around the house are 17 acres of enjoyable Victorian gardens, including a sunken parterre, rose garden, ravine garden, and a conservatory designed by James Wyatt. The estate surrounding the house stretches to an enormous 1400 acres, with a deer park that existed in the medieval period, moorland, and park containing a hunting tower built in the 18th century.
Lyme Park was featured in the BBC production of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice .
Opening times: April to October - House; Fri-Tues 13:00-17:00 (Bank holiday Mon 11:00-17:00), The Cage; open on 2nd and 4th weekends of the month 13:00-16:00, Paddock Cottage; open on 1st and 3rd weekends of the month 13:00-16:00, Gardens; daily 11:00-17:00, Park; daily 08:00-20:30 (October to April open daily 08:00-18:00)
Contact details: Lyme Park, Disley, Stockport, SK12 2NX, Cheshire, England
Telephone: 01663 762023 | Website
House and Garden: £6.50 for adults, £3.30 for children
Family House and Garden: £17
House only: £5 for adults, £2.50 for children
Garden only: £3.50 for adults, £2 for children
Park entrance: £4.50
National Trust members and children under 5 go free
Guided Taster Tour (Fri-Tues 12:00) £3 for adults, £1 for children
Guided House Tours (Fri, Sat, Mon, Tues, throughout the afternoon) £2 for adults, £1 for children
Journey time from the house - 46 mins (Route map)
Haddon Hall is a fortified medieval manor house dating from the 12 th Century, and is the home of Lord and Lady Edward Manners whose family have owned it since 1567.
Described by Simon Jenkins in 1000 Best houses as "the most perfect house to survive from the middle ages", this remarkable old house is surrounded by terraced Elizabethan gardens and is set amongst the rolling countryside of the Peak District National Park.
Haddon has welcomed visitors for hundreds of years and its beauty and atmosphere never fails to enchant.
The house is open to visitors from April to October, with a number of special events being staged throughout the season. School parties and groups are very welcome. Further details can be found within the website.
Haddon has featured in many films and TV programmes including Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly, Mathew MacFadeyn, and Dame Judy Dench. Most recently Haddon was used as the setting for Thornfield in the BBC's adaptation of Jane Eyre.
April : Saturday – Monday
Easter: Good Friday – Tuesday, May – Sept : Daily, October: Saturday – Monday.
Opening hours: 12 noon – 5pm (last admission 4pm)
Closed: 30 June and 1 July
Admission: Adults £8.50, Concessions £7.50, Children £4.50, Family (2 adults, 3 children) £22.00, Regular Visitor Pass £15.50
Journey time from the house - 43 mins (Route map)
The atmospheric interior of this rambling house spans many periods.
Originally built in 1530, its Great Hall and priest hole date from Tudor times, while the Oak Parlour and smaller rooms, some with William Morris wallpapers, show the Victorian desire for privacy and comfort. There is also fine Jacobean plasterwork and intricately carved furniture. A fully equipped Victorian kitchen and servants' hall enable visitors to see 'behind the scenes'.
The restored garden has spring bulbs, a rose garden, summer border and stream garden, and there are woodland walks and magnificent views of the Mersey basin and North Wales hills from The Bund, a high bank.
Home Farm, a 5-minute walk from Speke Hall, is a model Victorian farm building, restored and part-adapted to provide a restaurant, shop and visitor facilities, and offers estate walks, children's play area and orchard.
Opening hours: See website
Contact details: Speke Hall, Garden & Estate The Walk, Liverpool L24 1XD
Telephone: 0151 427 7231 | Website
Admission prices:£6.50, child £3.50, family £19.50. Groups £5.80, child £3.20. Grounds & Home Farm only : £3.50, child £1.80, family £10. Reduced rate when arriving by cycle, on foot or public transport
Journey time from the house - 1 hour 9 mins (Route map)
Shugborough Hall is the only complete working estate in the UK and is the home of the Earls of Lichfield. Until his recent death this was the home of Patrick Lichfield, renowned photographer and cousin of the Queen.
Leave the 21st century behind and step into the real working environments of the estate. See, feel, hear and smell history as costumed 'first person' characters take you on a journey into the inner workings of a large country estate and bring real working environments to life.
Shugborough is the rare survival of a complete estate, with all major buildings including mansion house, servants' quarters, model farm and walled garden.
Costumed staff at Shugborough
All the people in costume that you will meet at Shugborough think they are in the 1800s, so any questions outside of that era will simply confuse them.
They think £21 a year is a good wage, eight pints of beer is a normal daily allowance and a journey to London will take at least three days!
Please DO ask them about their lives. We can guarantee that the answers you get will surprise you, that the banter they spout will make you smile and that the tales they weave will leave you wanting more.
What we cannot guarantee is exactly WHO you may bump into. It may be:
Mrs Stearn, the Victorian kitchen head cook, Mr Crisp, the Butler, William Bailey, the farm Miller, Mrs Wheelock, the bailiff's wife or even the Lady of the House, Lady Anson.
All our characters are well researched individuals that really did exist - and in the mind of the superbly talented guides who portray them - they still do!!
Opening hours: 16 March - 26 October 2007 Every Day, 11am to 5pm
Shugborough Hall and Estate, Milford, nr Stafford, Staffordshire ST17 0XB
Telephone: 01889 881 388 | Website
Admission prices: NT members (free entry to house & gardens only), Adult £10, Concession £8, Child £6, Family (2 Adults and up to 3 Children) £25, Family (1 Adult and 1 Child) £12.50, Under 5's free. Parking Charge £4.00 per vehicle, fully refunded on purchase of a ticket
Journey time from the house - 43 mins (Route map)
Kedleston Hall - Front view
Kedleston Hall is a classical Palladian mansion built for the Curzon family between 1759 and 1765. It has one of the best examples of Robert Adam's interiors in England which has seen very little alteration since its completion. The state rooms are on a grand scale and have particularly good collections of paintings and original furniture. A museum of remarkable furniture and artefacts collected by Lord Curzon when he was Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905 is housed in the Eastern Museum.
The gardens were landscaped in the 1760's as a fashionable 'Pleasure Ground' of the period and a 'ha ha' allows untinterrupted views of the parkland and grazing areas beyond. There are numerous sculptures and architectural features with a summer house and an orangery. A sunken rose bed and finely stocked shrub and flower beds complete a charming and relaxed area.
Kedleston Hall - Rear view
Only the small church remains from the original village of Kedleston, which was moved 2km to take it away from the new house. Built originally in the 13th Century it retains many interesting features but is dominated by a flamboyant tomb to Lord Curzon who was Viceroy of India. His effigy lies next to his first wife as he planned the tomb well in advance of his death. History does not record how his second wife viewed his final resting place!
The Park covers 820 acres and was also designed by Robert Adam who created the five lakes as well as various smaller buildings and walks. Entrance to the Park takes you over the Adam Bridge and the lakes are home to a variety of wildfowl. There are two established walks of one and two hours duration and tours are available of the Fishing Room and Boat Houses which have been recently restored.
Opening hours: From 10th March 2007. House - Mon, Tues, Wed, Sat & Sun 12.00 - 4.30pm, Park and Gardens - Daily 10.00am - 6pm
Contact details: Kedleston Hall,
Derby, Derbyshire DE22 5JH
Telephone: 01332 842191 | Website
Admission prices: NT members (free entry to house & gardens only), Non NT members: Adult £6.90, child £3.30, family £17. Groups £5.80, child £2.90. Park & garden only : £3.10, child £1.55, family £7.70. Reduced rate when arriving by cycle, on foot or public transport. (Park & garden ticket refundable against tickets for house.) Winter admission for park only £3 per vehicle
Journey time from the house - 45 mins (Route map)
The ideal family day out - intriguing late 17th-century house with sumptuous interiors, an entertaining museum and a restful garden. The lavish interiors were featured in the BBC's 'Pride and Prejudice'. Sudbury was the home of the Vernon family until gifted to the Trust in 1967, and is an unexpected mixture of architectural styles, with remarkable carvings, plasterwork and painting. Richly decorated, it has a collection of family portraits and is home to one of the grandest long galleries and staircases in England. The formal gardens and meadows lead to the tree-fringed lake - perfect for a picnic.
The National Trust Museum of Childhood Situated in the 19th century service wing of Sudbury Hall, the National Trust Museum of Childhood contains fascinating displays about children from the 18th century onwards.
Opening hours: From 10th March 2007. House - Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun 1.00 - 5.00pm, Grounds - Daily 10.00am - 6pm
NT Members Free of charge. Non members - Hall (standard)* : £5.50, child £2.50, family (2 adults & 2 children under 3s free) £13. Groups £4.60, child £2.10. Hall (peak)* : £6.50, child £3, family £15. Joint ticket Hall/Museum (standard) : £10, child £5.50, family £25. Joint ticket Hall/Museum (peak) : £12, child £6, family £27. Garden only (standard & peak) : £1, child 50p, family £2.50. Reduced rate when arriving by cycle or public transport. * 2-tier pricing applies – standard and peak (peak: 6-week school summer holidays, 22 July to 3 Sept)
Journey time from the house - 36 minutes (Route map)
to be added
to be added
Chatsworth Hall at sunset
Chatsworth is one of Britain's best loved historic houses and estates (voted Britain's best stately home by 'Period Homes' magazine), offering something for everyone to enjoy, from famous works of art and the spectacular fountains in the garden to the finest shopping, food and drink and many miles of free walks. The home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire is set in the magnificent landscape of Derbyshire's Peak District National Park.
In the house, you can see the grandest rooms filled with examples of superb craftsmanship and treasures collected over five centuries. The famous garden contains spectacular waterworks and you are welcome to walk, picnic and play here and in the surrounding park. The farmyard and adventure playground welcomes young visitors and families and has special activities throughout the season.
We recommend that you allow at least five hours to see all that Chatsworth has to offer.
If you only visit one period house in the Peak District - this is the one to choose.
‘ Chatsworth, the greatest private palace in England or maybe the world, with its fountains and water-steps and treasures '
Jane Gardam, The Independent, 2002
The 1000 acre park and the farmshop and its restaurant are open all year round. The house, garden, farmyard, gift shops and restaurant are closed, and will re-open on 14 March 2007. Opening times will be added once they are published
Chatsworth House, Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1PP
Tel: +44 (0) 1246 565300 | Fax: +44 (0) 1246 583536 | Website
These vary according to the what you wish to see. Please check the website for the latest prices.
Journey time from the house - 47 minutes (Route map)
to be added
See also the Apprentice House (below)
A young resident of 'The Apprentice House'
Part of the Quarry Bank Mill (above)
The Apprentice House was where children working at Styal Mill during the late eighteenth and nineteenth century lived. The Apprentice House was first built in 1790 (with later additions) and could house up to 100 children. By 1800 there were 90 children living at the House, 60 girls and 30 boys. They represented 50% of the total workforce at the Mill at that time. The majority were aged between 10 years and 12 years and were contracted to work for a period of 7 years.
Internally, the Apprentice House was divided into several distinct sections
A team of museum interpreters bring the house to life. Dressed in costume they engage visitors in conversation and discussion often in-role as one of the real characters who lived at the house. It could be Mr and Mrs Shawcross, the most notable superintendents, Dr Holland from Knutsford who was employed to check on the health of the children or one of the Miss Gregs’, Samuel’s daughters, who are said to have been regular visitors to the house. Visitors are encouraged to touch all the objects; test the straw filled beds, stir the porridge in the kitchen, and pump water from the well in the yard.
Our children loved this place - and it is a frequent location for school trips. It gives a fascinating insight into how some children were forced to live 200 years ago.
Opening times: See Website
Contact details: Quarry Bank Mill, Quarry Bank Road, Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 4LA
Tel:(01625) 527468 | Fax: (01625) 539267 | Website
Admission prices: Mill and Apprentice House : £8.50, child £4.70, family £19. Groups £7. Mill only : £5.75, child £3.70, family £15. Groups £4.75. Estate : £2.70. Discounted combined rail, bus and entry tickets, enquire at your local station
Journey time from the house - 47 mins (Route map)
to be added (also RHS flower show (weekend of 21st July)
Erddig - Wales
Atmospheric house and estate, vividly evoking its family and servants
Erddig is a very special place. It is a unique family home that has captured the way of life of a bustling household community during the early years of the 20th Century.
Helping the servants bake at Erddig
Below stairs a fascinating collection of portraits, photographs and verses records the people who spent their lives on the estate, and tells of the Yorke family's high regard for their servants.
Upstairs the rooms contain an original collection of 18th century furniture and are filled with the accumulated treasures of a family that never threw anything away - from the rare and the beautiful to the trivial and commonplace.
Your visit starts in the estate buildings where the joiner and blacksmith worked, through the Midden Yard with saw mill and cart sheds to the Stable Yard with its tackroom, carriages and vintage cycles and cars. From there you will continue to the laundry, bakehouse and kitchen.
Erddig's walled garden is one of the most important surviving 18th century gardens in Britain. It has rare fruit trees, a canal, a pond and a National Ivy Collection.
Visitors to Erddig can buy a ticket to see 'Below Stairs' - the Housekeepers room, Agents Office, Servants Hall and Butler's Pantry, the outbuildings, walled garden and grounds.
Or: 'All Inclusive Ticket' - including the family rooms upstairs - the Dining Room, Saloon, Drawing Room, Nursery, State Bedroom, Chapel and the Servants Quarters in the attic (the Tapestry and Small Chinese Rooms are only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays).
Or: Gardens and Outbuildings Only - access to the 18th Century walles garden, estate, shop, second hand bookshop, restaurant, Audio Visual Room, Exhibition Room and outbuildings which include stables, smithy, joiners shop and carriage houses.
Opening times: House - 24th March - 28th October Mon, Tues, Wed, Sat & Sun 12.00 to 4.00pm. 6th April - 30th June and 1st to 30th September as above but open until 5.00pm. July and August also open on Thursday. Garden opening hours are longer - please see website for times.
Admission prices: NT Members free. Non members - £8, child £4, family £20. Groups £6.80, child £3.40. Garden & outbuildings only : £5, child £2.50, family £12.50. Groups £4.20, child £2.10
Journey time from the house - 1 hour (Route map)
Chirk Castle - Wales
Chirk Castle is an awe-inspiring, magnificent 700 year-old Marcher fortress with commanding views.
It is situated close to the welsh border and has been occupied, continuously since it was built and occupied by by the Myddleton family, who have lived there for the past 400 years since 1295. Originally the 13th century castle, completed in 1310, was bought for £4800 in 1595 by Sir Thomas Myddelton a Welsh merchant. Over the years, subsequent occupants of the Myddelton family added their own ideas to the castle, this included major alterations taking place in the 1840's.
The castles austere and atmospheric exterior with its 15ft thick walls, contrasts with its intimate and comfortable, interior containing staterooms filled with elegant Adam-style furniture, elaborate plaster work, portraits and fine tapestries.
In 1999 Chirk Castle also won the National Trust/Gordon's Gin Garden of the Year Award. Not surprising, as the delightful formal gardens and 18th century parkland commands spectacular views over the Cheshire/Shropshire plains.
Opening times: Castle 24th March - 30th June and 1st September to 4th November: Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun 12-5pm. 1st July - 31st August: Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun. Garden & Estate 10am - 6pm
Chirk Castle Chirk, Wrexham LL14 5AF
Telephone: 01691 777701 | Website
Admission prices: NT Members free. Non members - Adult £7, child £3.50, family £17.50. Groups £5, child £2.50. Garden only : £4.50, child £2.20, family £11.20. Groups £3.20, child £1.60
Journey time from the house - 1 hour 7 minutes (Route map)
Journey time from the house - 1 hour 4 minutes (Route map)
Journey time from the house (across the beautiful Peak Park via Buxton, Bakewell etc) - 1 hour 30 minutes (Route map)
Hidcote Manor Gardens
in the Cotswolds
Hidcote, in the beautiful Cotwolds, is one of England's great gardens. Hidcote was created in the Arts & Crafts style by the horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston. It is arranged as a series of outdoor rooms, each with a different character and separated by walls and hedges of many different species. The garden is famous for its rare shrubs and trees, outstanding herbaceous borders and unusual plant species from all around the world. The varied styles of the outdoor rooms peak at different times of the year making for an interesting visit at any time.
Broadly everyday except Thursday in July and August, Otherwise every day except Wednesday and Thursday. Opening hours 10am - 6pm - but check the website
Journey time from the house - 1 hour 45 minutes (Route map)
Free for National Trust members. Non members: Adult: £8, child £4, family £20. Groups £7.20, child £3.60.