Tudor manor houses with priest’s holes at Baddesley Clinton and Coughton Court tell dramatic stories of religious persecution and conspiracies, including the most famous of them all the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. More recently sweeping parkland at Charlecote Park and Compton Verney illustrate the vision of ‘Capability’ Brown. And more recently still Ryton the home of Garden Organic is making history of a fresh kind. Come and unlock some unique secrets and treasures.
Discover a beautiful Elizabethan mansion house built on the site of a 12th-century Augustinian priory. The home of the Newdegate family for over 400 years, Arbury Hall was transformed in the 18th century to become England’s most breathtaking example of early Gothic Revival architecture. Wander rooms featuring spectacular fan vaulted ceilings, antique furniture and fascinating portraits, and spot scenes famously described by George Eliot, who was born on the estate. Then explore gardens, wooded walks and lakes created in the enchanting picturesque manner of the 18th century -- the Rose Garden hedged by ancient yew is sheer magic.
Credit Arbury Hall
Unlock the secrets of a home that offered a haven to Catholics persecuted in the Elizabethan era. Atmospheric interiors throughout the house conjure the comforts of the times, yet this moated medieval manor also conceals no fewer than three priest’s holes: just imagine the hold-your-breath moments endured by someone in hiding. Stretch your legs in the delightful garden complete with stewponds and lake, find out what’s fresh in the vegetable garden, or follow the lovely nature walk.
Copyright NTPL / Robert Morris
Was Shakespeare caught poaching deer at Charlecote Park? Come and find out, and uncover strong associations with Queen Elizabeth I, too. Charlecote Park has been home to the Lucy family for over 700 years and its mellow brickwork and tall chimneys are the very essence of Tudor England. Inside you can see how the house was remodelled in Victorian times and get a taste for 'downstairs' life in the kitchen and scullery. Relax in gardens that include a formal parterre, sensory garden and woodland, or step out on a walk across the ‘Capability’ Brown-inspired parkland, still with fallow deer.
Few historic mansions undergo such an unusual transformation as Compton Verney: from a derelict Georgian home into an inspirational gallery of international standing. Combine a look around restored Grade 1-listed buildings and new spaces, as you browse the diverse art collections. And do enjoy the Grade 2*-listed classical park landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown. Sweeping grassland, ornamental lakes and Cedars of Lebanon offer the perfect backdrop for a picnic. Pick up a grounds leaflet or borrow an audio tour from the Ticket Desk to learn more about the park’s hidden stories and history.
Image credit John Kippin
Go behind the scenes of a defining moment in history at Coughton Court, home of the Throckmortons since 1409. Members of this old, Catholic family were among conspirators in the 1605 Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and features like the priest’s hole bear testament to the bravery of the Throckmortons’ beliefs during a dangerous age. The story of personalities who helped to bring about Catholic emancipation can also be followed through the ‘family album’ of portraits and treasures around this fine Tudor house. Highlight of the award-winning gardens is the walled garden brimming with roses and herbaceous plants.
Credit ©NTPL/Robert Morris
Stroll up the terraced walk, through the handsome landscaped garden, and a magnificent honey-coloured stone house appears: welcome to Farnborough Hall, home of the Holbech family for 300 years. Renowned for its exquisite plasterwork, the Hall is also full of treasures and antiquities brought back from Grand Tour excursions. The surrounding Grade 1-listed landscape was designed in the 1740s and, if you can tear yourself away from the collections indoors, you’ll be rewarded with superb views across the Warwickshire plain towards Edgehill, Stratford-upon-Avon and the Malvern Hills.
Image credit Matthew Antrobus
The home of organic gardening in England is guaranteed to spark a few ideas, with more than 30 individual gardens in ten acres of landscaped grounds. Explore the world’s first public biodynamic garden, and experience the beauty of a wildflower meadow, a cornfield, swathes of blue lavender and sensual roses. The Bee Garden, Cook’s Garden and Growth Therapy Garden appeal to varied interests, while composting and pest/disease control displays provide practical tips. Tuck into organic produce in the award-winning restaurant, and buy plants and seeds to take home.
Credit Garden Organic Ryton
Be inspired by a garden that is a masterpiece of Arts & Crafts style, created by horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston. Hidcote, in the north Cotswolds, is designed as a series of outdoor 'rooms', each with a special character and each peaking at different times in the year, providing fresh interest whenever you visit, from spring bulbs to autumn's vibrant Red Border. View rare shrubs and trees, remarkable herbaceous borders and unusual plant species, as well as vistas across the Vale of Evesham.
Image credit NTPL / Nick Daly
Middleton Hall may not be well known, but it is packed with surprises, among them evidence of an incredible range of domestic architecture from the late 13th to early 19th centuries and including a Tudor-origin Great Hall. There are also many famous associations, not least with Queen Elizabeth I, who stayed here after the historic festivities at Kenilworth in 1575. You will be further intrigued by the Hall’s links with numerous pioneers, in fields as diverse as exploration and natural sciences.
Credit Graham Taylor
This enticing house, originally 16th century, was restored between the world wars to create a memorable 20th-century evocation of domestic Tudor architecture. Look out for fine 16th-century textiles and furniture as well as delicate stained-glass windows. Outside you’ll find romantic herbaceous borders, and a spiral path leads to the extraordinary Yew Garden whose bulging, cylindrical and conical topiary is said to represent the Sermon on the Mount, including The Master, 12 Apostles and four Evangelists.
Image credit NTPL / David Levenson
Immerse yourself in the grandeur of this magnificent Palladian house, family home of the Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford. It’s an unrivalled treat, from James Gibbs’ baroque plasterwork in the Great Hall to James Wyatt’s Red Saloon. A Woodland Walk snakes through the 400-acre ‘Capability’ Brown park and there’s a Rose Garden, Winter Garden and unusual Fumpary of reclaimed tree stumps and woodland planting. Crown a visit by following the distinctive Jerwood Foundation Sculpture Trail, which includes Elisabeth Frink’s Walking Man and Antony Gormley’s Insider VIII.
Credit Ragley Hall
Founded in 1154 by Cistercian monks but later transformed into the home of the Leigh family from 1561 to the late 20th century, Stoneleigh Abbey bears witness to an eventful history. King Charles I was entertained here when the gates of Coventry were closed against him and Jane Austen wove descriptions of the interiors into her novels; Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed and in modern times Prince Charles visited following restoration work. Tour the imposing baroque West Wing, its Saloon the epitome of Georgian magnificence, and follow the Pleasure Garden Walk to the River Avon.
Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons
Join the 1930s weekend house party of Lord and Lady Bearsted and admire their outstanding collection of English and continental Old Master paintings, including works by Hogarth, Stubbs, Canaletto and El Greco. Peruse exquisite porcelain from Derby, Chelsea, Worcester and Sevres factories, be dazzled by the red and silver art deco bathroom, listen to family stories or read the papers. The gardens – being returned to their 1930s heyday – feature terraces, herbaceous borders, a water garden and the National Collection of Asters.
Image credit NTPL / Rupert Truman
Stay in WarwickshireBook cosy BnBs or luxurious hotels
Sign up here to receive our latest news and special offers
If you are thinking about visiting Warwickshire and would like a guide to help you plan your stay have a look at the e-brochure for the whole county
For a sneak preview of what we've got WithinWarwickshire check out these videos or download a podcast or two