Revealing the finest hidden gems
This Easter, don’t just go down to your local famous stately – your Chatsworths, Blenheims and Castle Howards – but take a look behind the doors of some of the UK’s lesser known but no less impressive historic houses. Earlier this month, the Historic Houses Association rebranded as Historic Houses in an effort to modernise and entice more visitors to these grand piles. Its president, James Birch, who is also the owner of Doddington Hall in Lincolnshire, explains that change was needed to open up the organisation and better promote its properties. “We have far more open houses than our sister organisations, the National Trust and English Heritage, but nobody realises that they’re so accessible,” he says.
The difference is that these houses are actually family homes, not kept untouched. “Visiting a house which is still lived in is a very different experience to one that is more of a museum piece,” says Ben Cowell, the organisation’s director-general. “People love it when they see children’s toys in the hallway.”
Of Historic Houses’ 1,650 properties, 320 are open to the public, at different times of the year. Here, we suggest some hidden gems to visit – and they’re all open over Easter.