Inspiring Itineraries

Six of the best houses for groups

Discover both sides of England’s aristocratic past at grand houses across
the country, where the wealthy elite lived in luxury and the working
classes endured long days of labour.

Groups can experience life upstairs and downstairs and find out what led
to the rise and fall of the age of the country house. Many of these places
contain original furnishings and stunning artworks, and visitors can also
often see some of the humbler spaces occupied by servants and staff.

1. Apsley House - The Wellington Collection

Hyde Park Corner, London, W1J 7NT.

Be amazed by the glittering interiors of the grandest address in the capital, once known as 'Number 1 London'. This beautiful Georgian building was the London home of the first Duke of Wellington and has changed very little since his great victory at Waterloo in 1815. Revel in one of the finest art collections in London, with paintings by Velazquez and Rubens, as well as a wonderful collection of silver and porcelain.

Admire the gifts from emperors, tsars, and kings to the Iron Duke. There are nearly 3,000 fine paintings, sculptures and works of art in silver and porcelain, given to Britain's greatest military hero.

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2. Audley End House and Gardens

Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JF

Enjoy a day out exploring the spacious grounds and estate of one of England’s grandest mansions, Audley End. Whether you’re exploring the servant’s wing, state rooms, stables, kitchen garden or beautiful grounds, you’ll discover what life was like above and below stairs at a Victorian country house.

Wander the glorious state rooms, reflecting the taste of the third Lord Braybrooke, who redecorated many of its rooms in the Jacobean style in the 1820s. Explore the Service Wing including historic kitchens, a dairy and laundry rooms to see what life would have been like for the Victorian servants that worked here.

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3. Brodsworth Hall

Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN5 7XJ

Catch a glimpse of Victorian life at this 'conserved as found' country estate. Brodsworth Hall was built and the pleasure gardens laid out in the 1860s as an up-to-date new home for the Thellusson family and their servants. It survived with remarkably few changes until taken on by English Heritage in 1990. The gardens have been restored and the faded and worn interiors gently conserved, telling the story of the changing fortunes of the people who lived and worked here. 

Roam the gorgeous grounds, discover the unique Rose garden recently restored to its Victorian splendour and stop for a tea in our pop-up outdoor café.

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4. Down House, The Home of Charles Darwin

Luxted Road, Downe, Kent BR6 7JT

With its unique place in the history of science and evolution Down House was Charles Darwin’s family home and is a site of outstanding international significance.

Step into the study where Charles Darwin wrote ‘On the Origin of the Species’ and discover a fascinating exhibition about his work . Follow in the great scientist’s footsteps as you explore the award-winning gardens where he spent many hours making observations and conducting experiments that helped develop his ground-breaking theories.

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5. Osborne

East Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO32 6JX

"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" said Queen Victoria of Osborne House, her palatial holiday home on the Isle of Wight. Visit Victoria and Albert's private apartments, their bathing beach and children's play-cottage for an intimate glimpse of royal family life. Then stroll through the garden terraces where the stunning views across the Solent reminded Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples.

Osborne reflects Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's passions, tastes and style. Ornate furnishings and artefacts from The Royal Collection fill rooms and corridors where Victoria entertained heads of state, inventors, princess and princesses and ruled the vast British Empire.

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6. Witley Court and Gardens

Great Witley, Worcestershire WR6 6JT

Explore the dramatic ruins of Witley Court and travel back to a world of lavish house parties. Learn the stories behind the people who once lived and partied here, from servants to royal visitors. Discover elaborate parterre gardens and monumental fountains then find your way through enchanting woodland. As you explore the extensive grounds, remember to keep an eye out for the beautiful birds, including the great crested grebe, which make up Witley’s varied wildlife.

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