The wind and rain may be blowing, the grey skies of winter may have a tight hold on the countryside, but the promise of springtime and brighter days in Wiltshire beckons. And there may be nothing more idyllic than the gorgeous surroundings of the county’s many stately homes and gardens.
Steeped in history and charm, many of these homes have been meticulously maintained and supported. Mostly museums now, they are perfect destinations to help you enjoy your fabulous cottage in the Wiltshire countryside. What’s more, after a long a day of strolling the homes and gardens, you can relax at the end of the day in your own perfect nearby luxury cottage accommodation.
Here are some of our favourite Wiltshire stately homes:
Built in 1582, the Elizabethan house was purchased in the 1700s by Paul Methuen so he had somewhere to house his major collections of 16th and 17th century Italian and Flemish art. The house was later extended in order for a second collection of Italian art to be moved into the home. The collection includes work by Chippendale, the Adam brothers, Van Dyck, Rosa, Rubens, Lippi, Reynolds and Romney.
Corsham Court also features a beautiful garden. It offers tree-lined borders, a lily pool, a rose garden, and a rare stone bathhouse. The home is open weekends only in winter, and every day from 20 March.
The Peto Garden at Iford Manor
One of the country’s most beautiful Edwardian gardens, this Harold Peto Garden was the designer’s home from 1899 until his death in 1933. The garden offers visitors stunning Italianate images with colonnades, terraces, cloisters, an open-fronted casita, statues and ponds – all above a gentle, rolling Avon River. Located in Bradford-on-Avon, the manor also has upcoming plans for the restoration of Japanese gardens on the site, and they are planning more visitor attractions like woodland walks. Opening again in April, please visit the Iford Manor site for more details and opening times.
Complete with a connected parish church, this manor from the 1600s was restored just over 100 years ago. Although Great Chalfield and its adjoining gardens were given to the National Trust in 1943, it is still a family home today.
Heale House Gardens
Local gardening extraordinaire Harold Peto played a major role in designing the beautiful gardens at Heale House as well. Created in Edwardian and Tudor styles, these terraced gardens almost seem more a like a painting than real life. There are high walls, apple tree tunnels, a Japanese teahouse, bridges, acers and magnolias. Located just north of Salisbury in Woodford, the house was once a hiding place for King Charles II in 1651. The gardens are only open during the summer months, so please consult the manor website for more information about opening times.
One of the most stunning stately homes in all of Wiltshire, Longleat House covers over 900 acres of countryside. The site’s ‘Capability’ Brown gardens and dramatic Elizabethan architecture make it a true national treasure. A former 16th century Augustinian priory, it contains a number of antique collections gathered over the centuries. There are early books and manuscripts on display, along with paintings by Titian and Reynolds, Flemish tapestries, and fine French furniture. The house is also home to Lord Bath’s ‘famous & fabulous’ collection of murals.
In addition to the stately home, Longleat offers a safari park, restaurant and fun for the whole family. There is always something going on, so please visit their website for more information.
Although it took most of the 1600s to build, this Grade II listed house has all the trappings of a well-loved family home. It has a closed-well staircase, numerous family portraits, and several contemporary polished oak doors. There is also a large fireplace in the kitchen.
The property has fine manicured gardens, and there is a large stone wall that separates the lawn and borders to the south of the house. It has impressive views of the distant Marlborough Downs. Please view the house website for opening times and events in 2016.
This famous estate was once the family home of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne. Now a hotel, spa, golf course and overall tourist destination, this stately home sits in the middle of another ‘Capability’ Brown garden. It was at Bowood – in a specially designed laboratory – that Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen in 1774. The house offers an orangery, library, chapel, and sculpture gallery with the famous Lansdowne Marble. Bowood House and Gardens won the Christie's Garden of the Year Award in 2014.
There are special events at Bowood House throughout the year. Visit their website for more information and to find out the best time for you to pay a visit.
This manor in Wilton is best known for its architectural features. They include the 17th century state apartments with the famous Single and Double Cube rooms. The site also has a 19th century cloisters. The manor sits on more than 14,000 acres of Wiltshire land extending over the Wylye and Nadder river valleys. Each March, they host an impressive antique fair in the grounds. See their website for more details.
- Katy Ereira
Lydiard House and Park
Lydiard House and Park is the historic family home of the Viscounts Bolingbroke. It has the original family furnishings and portraits, plasterwork, and a unique painted window dating back to the 1600s. There is a walled garden where flowers, fruit trees and more flourish in spring and summer. The property is near the adjacent St Mary's Church, which offers dozens of monuments to the St John family.
Abbey House Gardens
Connected to the nearby Malmesbury Abbey, this historic site is a horticultural gem. The property has over 2,000 different roses, 2,000 bedded herbs in medieval gardens, and more than 2,000 other plant species. It has double herbaceous borders, wooded and river walks, stunning water features, and an amazing colour palette.
Main Image Credit: Robin (flickr.com)