Places with hidden surprises

Our places are full of surprises. From a tiny, atmospheric church tucked away in a corner, to incredible art, strange figures in a rock formation and Second World War relics. Here are 10 of our favourites.

A la Ronde shell gallery

A La Ronde, Devon 

The Shell Gallery was designed to resemble a seaside grotto and can be viewed from the Octagon below. But if you want to get close to the display, visitors can now take control of specially-positioned CCTV camera and use it explore all the nooks and crannies above.

Buttercups at Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire
Walking trail

Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire 

Explore this amazing collection of natural rock formations, set in a dramatic moorland, location with stunning views across the surrounding countryside. Many of the rocks have been given unusual names based on what they resemble, including ‘the Dancing Bear’, ‘Castle Rock’, ‘ET’ and ‘the Anvil’. Take this circular walk to see the rock formations up close.

Visitors walking through the tunnels at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire 

Go underground at Calke Abbey. Explore the Brewhouse and Gardeners' tunnels. As well as the hidden grotto, which was designed by local architect, Samuel Brown, for Sir Henry Harpur in 1809. The Grotto is a key historical feature. It created a sense of fantasy and romanticism within the garden, and also provided a perfect place to refresh after a walk in the gardens. The half-dome cavern is brick-built, and its interior is adorned with minerals such as satin spar, galena and quartz.

Picture of The Tenric

Cherryburn, Northumberland 

Peek inside the Print Room and discover how Thomas Bewick revolutionised print art in Georgian England. See demonstrations showing how wood blocks were used to create beautiful prints, and peruse a fascinating exhibition of his tiny original artworks.

Flowers in Hinton Ampner's kitchen garden with view of the church

Hinton Ampner, Hampshire 

No visit to Hinton Ampner is complete without taking the chance to explore the tiny All Saints church, which you'll find tucked away inside the gardens. There are rare Anglo Saxon survivals in the mainly Norman fabric of this atmospheric building. And the vestry door was donated to the church by a local man in 1643 at the height of the English Civil War.

The interior of The Shack at Mottistone Gardens on the Isle of Wight with desks and bunk bed

Mottistone, Isle of Wight 

Explore ‘The Shack’, a tiny Tardis-like wooden structure that architects John Seely and Paul Paget used as their country office and retreat. The 1930s interior is perfectly preserved and features period mod-cons, including matching bunkbeds, wardrobes, desks and chairs, even a typewriter, cooker and en-suite shower.

Rocking horse in the Day Nursery

Nunnington Hall, North Yorkshire 

See for yourself the amazing doll's house in Carlisle Collection. It has 21 incredibly intricate, miniature rooms that include many beautifully-produced replica items. For example, there are tiny pieces of Chippendale furniture. Remarkably, in the miniature music room, all the instruments actually work too.

Early photograph of the 1830s glasshouse at Quarry Bank

Quarry Bank, Cheshire 

Discover the Back Sheds behind the remarkable, curvilinear Quarry Bank glasshouse. These have recently been restored as an interactive space allowing you to explore the history of gardeners who worked there, and find out how the Greg family children connected with the natural world.

Second World War inspection pit at Saltram

Saltram, Devon 

Devon played a key role in the Allied preparations for D-Day and a WWII Sherman Tank inspection pit still survives on the Serpentine Walk at Saltram. It was built by American troops stationed at mansion during WW II, and there is still evidence of graffiti carved in the stone by GIs. The area has now been surrounded by a hedge made up of North American scented Osmanthus to commemorate the US presence.

Conservator Steve Clare re-installs Tudor stained glass at The Vyne

The Vyne, Hampshire  

Marvel at one of the most important, surviving Tudor chapels in Europe, with stained glass famous for its jewel-like clarity. These windows are the finest in the National Trust’s care and considered to be among the most beautiful 16th-century glass in Europe. They feature King Henry VIII, who visited The Vyne several times. There are also representations of his sister, Margaret, and Henry's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, together with their patron saints.