The United Kingdom is home to a wealth of iconic buildings with their own unique history. Once jealously guarded by the nation’s elite, these can now be enjoyed by anyone for the price of admission!

On this page, we’ll be exploring some of the best stately homes to visit in the UK. We’ll also discuss membership details for institutions like the National Trust and English Heritage.

Best Stately Homes in the UK

1. Chatsworth

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Institution: private/family owned 

Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, this remarkable stately home has been in the Cavendish family for 16 generations. There are up to 25 rooms to explore, each with their own spectacular decor and furnishings. 

Chatsworth also holds a remarkable collection of art from around the world. Everything from ancient Egyptian sculpture to masterpieces by Rembrandt are waiting to be discovered. 

Looking for a bite to eat? Chatsworth has more than a few options to choose from. 

2. Chartwell House

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Institution: National Trust 

What better place to visit than the family home and gardens of Sir Winston Churchill? While the grandeur of Chartwell can’t compare to some other options listed here, its historical significance surely earns its place on this page. 

The Churchill family had loved Chartwell dearly since 1922. Sir Winston himself only left the Kent property reluctantly in 1964 due to poor health. A visit to this stately home is an insight into the family life of one of the nation’s most significant politicians. 

Teas, coffees, and freshly made food are available at this National Trust site. 

3. Kenwood House

Institution: English Heritage 

When one thinks of a stately home, it’s easy to imagine sprawling countryside far from the hustle and bustle of a big city. This is just one of the things that makes Kenwood so unique. Located at the edge of Hampstead Heath in London, this spectacular property offers a taste of tranquillity to those living in England’s capital. 

Stroll through the home’s impressive gardens or take in its jaw-dropping interiors. The building contains a sizable art collection, including Rembrandt's piece, 'Portrait with Two Circles'.

The best part? Entry to the house and grounds is free! Tired after wandering around? The Kenwood cafe is ready and waiting.

4. Belton House

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Institution: National Trust 

The National Trust website describes Belton as “the perfect country house estate”. So, what makes this stately home worth visiting? One oft-cited suggestion is the size, detail, and range of its collections. 

An astonishing collection of English portraiture, silver, sculpture, books, and more can be enjoyed by visitors to this unique location. The works have come together over 4 centuries of the family’s tireless penchant for collection. 

The grounds, furnishings, and local wildlife are other factors that make Belton worth the trip. Fancy some ice cream or a freshly cooked meal during your visit? The stables cafe has you covered. 

5. Bodrhyddan Hall

Institution: private/ family owned 

This lavishly decorated, grade I listed home is a jewel of Northern Wales. Lord Langford’s family has lived here for several generations. Their changing but ever-discerning tastes are reflected in the many rooms’ styles, art, and arrangements. Those who enjoy calming country walks simply must visit Bodrhyddan if they’re in the area. 

The estate includes several hundreds of acres of gardens and pristine woodlands that simply sing during the summer months. Guided tours that dive into the history of this spectacular hall are available throughout the year. 

Looking for an unforgettable venue for a wedding or other event? Bookings are available on request. 

6. The Argory

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Institution: National Trust 

A breathtaking atmosphere, stunning riverside walks, and a curious collection of artworks await you at this Northern Irish stately home. Designed by Arthur and John Williamson in the 19th century, the home’s conception resulted from a strange clause left in a will. 

Today, hundreds of guests enjoy its unique charm and artwork each year. Look forward to ornate handrails, sumptuous living quarters, and nature walks that will stay with you for a lifetime. 

Historic tours are available during the summer months, usually on Wednesday afternoons. 

7. Ballindalloch Castle

Institution: private/family owned 

This 16th-century castle is a rare find – the original family is still occupying it continuously! Perched on the banks of the river Avon in north-eastern Scotland, this sensational home is a sight to behold. 

Visitors can learn of the castle’s rich history that dates as far back as 1457. The building contains sumptuously adorned rooms and an impressive art collection. On sunnier days, walks through the Ballindalloch gardens are simply unmissable! 

Tours and historic talks are also available at different times throughout the year.

8. Eltham Palace

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Institution: English Heritage 

The history of Eltham palace is really quite something. What started as a mediaeval palace transitioned slowly into a Tudor royal residence. What truly gives this stately home its unique charm, however, are its unmissable art deco stylings that can be found throughout the building and its grounds. 

In the 20th century, “eccentric millionaires” Stephen and Virginia Courtauld purchased the property and gave it the bold flair that visitors know and love today. How often does one get to see a mediaeval palace that looks like it was decorated in the 1930s?

Beautiful gardens, rigorous historic tours, and a charming cafe are ready and waiting in Eltham. 

9. Knole

Institution: National Trust 

Knole is the National Trust’s largest stately home and was designed with showing off in mind. Practically all aspects of the building and its grounds, from their ornate furnishings to their breathtaking private garden, are meant to impress and inspire all those who visit. 

Encounter wild deer on your walks in the countryside; marvel at the sensational artwork and furnishings; and breathe deeply in Lord Sackville’s private garden. This is a UK stately home you simply don’t want to miss. 

Enjoy a freshly prepared scone and a pot of tea after your day of adventure in the Brewhouse Cafe.

10. Highclere Castle

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Institution: private/ family owned 

Last, but certainly not least, is the iconic Highclere Castle near Newbury. Fans of Downton Abbey may want to pay close attention to this estate; it was famously used as a primary filming location for the production. 

All this aside, Highclere is still well worth visiting. The rich history, dazzling artwork, and timeless grounds are enough for a full day’s worth of exploring. Tours are available at different times during the year that dive into the castle’s 250-300 rooms. 

National Trust Membership – What You Need to Know 

As a National Trust member, you’ll enjoy a number of unique benefits that can make your visits to stately homes like the ones on this page even more enjoyable. National Trust members can expect: 

The prices for National Trust memberships are as follows:

Individual adults – £76.80 a year 

Under 25s – £38.40 a year 

Juniors – £10 a year 

Families – £83.40 - £133.80 a year depending on the number of adults. 

Partner membership – £127.20 a year 

Membership can actually save you money if you visit throughout the year! 

What About English Heritage?

English Heritage members can expect similar benefits to those listed above. These include the following: 

You’ll be paying the following amounts for membership: 

Families – £66-£115 a year 

Partners – £115 a year 

Individuals – £66 a year 

Under 25s – £53 a year 

Seniors – £59 a year

Final Thoughts 

We hope you’ve found the recommendations above useful. Whichever home you choose to visit, may its history and stories stay with you for many years to come!