All the houses listed here are National Trust unless I have specifically said not. If you are not already a member, even for a relatively short visit to Britain, and if you are particularly interested in grand houses and gardens, you may find it worth taking out annual membership as the entrance charges soon mount up. Most of the places here are within 30 mins drive. Some much less and a few further away.
Just over the hill, less than 3 miles away (you can walk through the fields if you are feeling fit!) arguably the most famous garden in England, the gardens of Hidcote Manor. This has something to enjoy in all seasons of the year although it does have a period of rest in the winter so check the website for opening times.
This is privately owned, not NT but free entry for HHA members. A beautiful garden created by three woman gardeners from three generations of the same family. This is right opposite the entrance to Hidcote and shares many of the same opening hours so is perfect for a double visit. You can also take afternoon tea here.
The eclectic collection of some 22,000 objects from around the world, made by Charles Wade. He stuffed the house to the gunnels with them and you could spend days here, peering in cabinets, and not see them all. Pretty garden too and a lovely drive over the hills from Chipping Campden to get there. Park in the car park and then it is quite a walk to the house (10 minutes or so). If you are tired or it is pouring with rain then just ask the people at the desk to ring for the buggy to transport you. You can do the same on the return. Entry to the house is by timed ticket. The gift shop has some very well chosen and reasonably priced items.
A house with a long family history. The Lucy family came from France with William the Conquerer and acquired the land in 1247. The young Shakespeare is alleged to have been brought before the magistrates in Stratford upon Avon for the crime of poaching deer and rabbits in the parkland surrounding the house. Today, you can visit the house, the stables, gardens and parkland. So vast is the collection of furnishings, books pictures, objets d'Art and antique carriages that it is an accredited museum. There are outdoor theatre performances here in the summer. See under 'Theatre'.
Located not far from Moreton in Marsh and Stow on the Wold, Chaslteton House is a fabulous Jacobean mansion. It has been lovingly consserved so it looks almost as it did 400 years ago. It is open more than it used to be. Check out the NT website for details. Entry is by timed ticket. Unless you are disabled the approach is from a car park high above the house so you have a lovely walk down through the fields to get to it (and a climb back up!).
For six centuries (and today), home to the Throckmorton family who were leaders in the field of Catholic emancipation. The house is Tudor and surrounded by extensive grounds. There is a walled formal garden, a river and a lake. Interesting also for its connection to Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.
Apart from being a very interesting house, both for its architectural interest (see the wonderful Art Deco bathroom!) and the family history of those who lived there, this also contains a very decent collection of art. Outside is a wonderful terraced garden and extensive grounds. It is our family's favourite house to visit in the area.
A medieval moated manor house important in the time of the persecution of Catholics. There are three priest holes. Lovely walks. A good secondhand bookshop which also sells antique prints and the usual NT high standards in the tea room which also does lunch. Just a mile up the road there is another very interesting house - Packwood House.
Near Lechlade. You could combine this with a visit to Kelmscott Manor (see above) and, in fact, there is a 4 mile walking trail that takes in both. Buscot is still lived in by the owners and quite a lot of the house (their 'private' rooms) is open to the public. Particularly interesting to those interested in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with paintings by Burne-Jones and Rossetti amongst others. The garden is magnificent all year round. Check opening times as these are restricted.
The following houses are not National Trust Houses:
About 50 minutes drive -The home of William Morris. This is near Lechlade. A member of the HHA About
Also little further away - The home of George Washington's ancestors houses the largest UK collection of Washington memorabilia. This is a 300 year old manor house with lots of activities for children as well to make it more interesting for them. Less than 50 minutes drive away.
Limited opening hours for the house and garden in the summer months only and children can only visit the house by special pre-arrangment. Free entry to HHA members.
PLUS Batsford Arboretum
Very near to Moreton-in-Marsh this is an Arboretum and garden centre and has a year round tearoom. Wonderful walks through the parkland. The Falconry centre is here also.
Not quite so near to us but a I hour 9 minute pleasant drive of 40 miles to Northamptonshire. Home of the Spencer family and the late Princess Diana of Wales. Really interesting house and lovely gardens, lake and parkland. Opening days are limited to dates in July and August