Our greatest houses

From magnificent manors to humble homes, country estates to town residences, the houses we look after all tell their own unique story. We’ve pulled together some of our greatest houses to visit including one of the most impressive buildings in our care, a tranquil hideaway, a royal retreat and a seat of scandal.

 View of the seventeenth-century country mansion at Kingston Lacy, Dorset

Magnificent

Kingston Lacy, Dorset, is filled with stories from history. William John Bankes (1786-1855) inherited the house in 1834, and transformed it into the lavish vision we see today. His travels influenced the design of the mansion and he went on to acquire Kingston Lacy's most important collection of objects, including a group of Spanish paintings. Bankes' eye for detail and love of art is reflected throughout the house.

The newly restored Scrabo stone floor at Mount Stewart

Conservation gem

A three-year, £8 million conservation project involving over 200 volunteers has restored Mount Stewart in County Down to its early 20th-century glory when it was home to Edith, Lady Londonderry. Previously unopened rooms are now on show following extensive repairs and redecorating throughout the neo-classical house undertaken by a team of experts.

The studio at Chartwell

Famous people

Many famous people have lived in the houses we care for. Chief among them is the wartime prime minister and great statesman Winston Churchill, who made his home at Chartwell in Kent for over 40 years. The house is a testament to his many interests – he wrote prolifically in his study and built a studio in the grounds in which to pursue his love of painting.

The Red Room at Petworth House

Finest art

Petworth House is home to many works of art, including the Molyneux globe, thought to be the earliest English terrestrial globe in existence, and 'A Vision of the Last Judgment', a dramatic work of art by William Blake.

Light bulbs at Cragside lit by hydroelectricity

Innovation

Created by the Victorian inventor William Armstrong, Cragside in Northumberland has innovation at its heart. It was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity and boasted other modern conveniences including hot and cold running water. A modern hydro system completed in 2014 now produces enough energy to light all 350 light bulbs in the house.

The ground floor of the house is currently open weekends only, 11am – 2.30pm. From 2 January – 19 February 2022, the house will be closed.

Autumnal view at Newton House at Dinefwr, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, Wales

Most majestic

Newton House, Dinefwr, was originally built in 1660. Over the years the house has undergone various designs, from an ornate Gothic façade, to the magnificent grand staircase and opulent ceilings. Surrounding the house is the Dinefwr estate, rolling green countryside which is perfect for a stroll with a loved one.

The Rotunda at Ickworth, Suffolk

Roundest

Though the entire house isn't round, the iconic rotunda at Ickworth House, Suffolk, is sure to make this historical place stand out. The house was built as an 18th-century palace to showcase lots of treasures collected over generations, including an extensive book collection and the statue of The Fury of Athamas, which features in the book 125 Treasures of the National Trust. The rotunda roof has recently been repaired, and when you visit you'll be able to marvel at the treasures collected over time at Ickworth.

The house is currently closed for the winter, but will be open between 11-22 December. It will return to normal opening days from March 2022.

Polesden Lacey, Surrey

Royal connections

Kings, queens and other royalty have visited and stayed at several places we look after. The Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), spent part of their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey in Surrey in 1923. The renowned hostess Mrs Greville also welcomed Edward VII and George V as visitors to her Edwardian country retreat.

The exterior of Clouds Hill, Dorset

Smallest

Clouds Hill in Dorset was the rural retreat of T. E. Lawrence ('Lawrence of Arabia'), who described it as ‘a hut in a wood near camp wherein I spend my spare evenings’. He rented the tiny white-washed cottage when stationed at Bovington Camp before later buying it. He was fatally injured in a motorcycle accident nearby in 1935.

The house is currently closed for winter. It will reopen on 2 March 2022.

The south front of Stoneywell, Leicestershire

Tranquil hideaway

Nestled in the idyllic surroundings of Charnwood Forest, Stoneywell in Leicestershire is a charming stone house, and is a rare surviving example of an Arts and Crafts house with its original furnishings. Designed as a holiday home by the architect Ernest Gimson for his brother, it remained in the Gimson family for four generations until it came into our care in late 2012.

A room called Dragon showing wooden table with candlesticks and jug, fireplace with swords above and a suit of armour at Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire

Unusual collection

Snowshill Manor in Gloucestershire takes the prize for its most unusual collection. It’s packed with extraordinary treasures collected by Charles Paget Wade, and we now care for around 22,000 items at Snowshill. This includes samurai armour, toys and an exquisitely decorated cabinet that's over 250 years old.

The house is only open on weekends throughout November and will be closed from 1 December. Look out for reopening times for 2022 on the property webpage.

Latest visiting update 

Our gardens, parks, cafés, shops, countryside locations and many houses are open. You no longer need to pre-book at many places. Some still require booking ahead, so please check the property webpage before you travel.​

Video

Spookiest

Treasurer’s House in York has a history spanning 2,000 years. The Roman road in the cellar is the source of mysterious experiences – many people have reported seeing the ghosts of Roman soldiers there. Ghostly presences have also been felt in other rooms.

The house will be closed from 19 December 2021 – 2 April 2022.