Peek inside some of England's grandest properties
pring doesn’t just bring daffodils and Easter bunnies you know. It’s also when England’s historic houses throw off their dustsheets, open their shutters and let the sunlight stream onto their priceless heirlooms.
At Belsay in Northumberland, run by English Heritage, you get two houses for the price of one. There’s a 14th-century castle – complete with medieval wall paintings and lookout tower – and the 19th-century Belsay Hall next door. Inspired by the ancient temples of Greece, you can’t walk into a room without spotting a Doric column or scantily-clad goddess.
Meanwhile, at Tatton Park in Cheshire you’ll find plenty of priceless treasures inside the mansion (Gillows furniture, a Kirckman harpsichord, and a Van Dyke painting or two), but it’s the gardens that we really love – and there are plenty of them.
Lose yourself in the yew tree maze, or soak up the tranquility of the Japanese garden – or how about picking up some gardening tips of your own in the glasshouses of the Walled Garden and the Orangery? If all this gardening talk is giving you green fingers, then the best time to visit is in July when this National Trust property holds the prestigious RHS flower show .
Chatsworth’s charms, in Derbyshire, on the other hand, are on a very different scale. This is one of the largest country estates in England, and amazingly is still home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
Its grand façade has been seen in various films, including Pride and Prejudice, The Duchess and er, The Wolfman. By all means, get lost in the drama of the marble gallery and 300-year-old Cascade waterfall but, please, please, leave your corsets at home...
Historic Houses Association
Choose a property to visit from around 1500 historic houses, stately homes, castles and gardens...Historic Houses Association