Four of John Craven’s favourite National Trust places

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

Snowy exterior of the south front, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire 

‘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 retreat. He’d invite his friends up for a good time in this amazing chateau. It’s a really beautiful building. ‘Waddesdon also has a hotel restaurant, called the Five Arrows. It’s one of my favourite restaurants. It was called the Five Arrows because founder of the Rothschild dynasty had 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.’

The Entrance Front at Cragside

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.’

Massed rhododendrons cover the slope between the Croquet Lawn summer-house and the south-East corner of the Standen

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.’

A view of Snowshill Manor in Gloucestershire from the garden

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!’