Four of John Craven’s favourite National Trust places

John Craven leaning on a wall

After years presenting BBC Countryfile John Craven has got to know us very well. Here he shares four of his favourite places. From the grandeur of Waddesdon, to a Cotswold house full of personal treasures.

Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire.

Get a taste of French gardening on a visit to Waddesdon's garden, inspired by a French chateau
A bright summer border in the garden in front of Waddesdon Manor

‘I like this place because it is a wonderful 16th century French chateau in the middle of the Buckinghamshire countryside. It’s one of several big houses in Buckinghamshire that were built by the Rothschild family. Waddesdon was built by Ferdinand Rothschild, who was a bachelor. It was his weekend Rothschild for weekend retreats with his friends.             

It’s also home to one of my favourite restaurants – the Five Arrows. It's named after the founder of the Rothschild dynasty's five sons. He sent them off to five corners of Europe; to the big financial centres. And they went off like arrows. That’s where the money came from to build Waddesdon.

‘They actually sliced the top of a hill off to build the chateau. I don’t think that would be allowed these days.’

Cragside, Northumberland.

‘This is a wonderful Arts and Crafts house. It was built by Lord Armstrong. He was an amazing man.

'He planted thousands of trees and he also had the first hydroelectric electricity supply in the world. It’s a fantastic house. His invention combined with Norman Shaw’s architectural talent made a fantastic combination.’

The Entrance Front at Cragside
The Entrance Front at Cragside

Standen, Sussex.

‘I’ve just been filming here. Standen is quite a small house and I think it was one of the last of the Arts and Crafts houses. But it’s got wonderful William Morris wallpaper everywhere and all kinds of Arts and Crafts design. There’s even a fantastic hidden grotto which the Trust is now restoring.’

The terrace at Standen in autumn.
The terrace at Standen in autumn, West Sussex.

Snowshill, Gloucestershire.

‘Snowshill is another of my favourites. It was built by Charles Wade, who was an architect and a huge collector. He started collecting when he was aged seven and never stopped. He filled his house. But it’s not a museum; it’s a house full of things. Thousands and thousands of objects from tiny little objects to full-sized samurai warrior outfits.

‘He actually lived in this little cottage in the garden and just used this wonderful Cotswold manor house as his storehouse.

‘When I was filming there, someone from the Trust said that she was doing an inventory and it was going to take her two years to just list everything!’

Snowshill Manor is the perfect location for a day out
A view of Snowshill Manor in Gloucestershire from the garden
The presenters of BBC Countryfile

See John Craven at Countryfile Live 

See John Craven and the other Countryfile presenters at BBC Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace from 4-7 August.