OUT OF TOWN
Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
Britain’s first public museum dates back to 1683, when the politician Elias Ashmole left his collection of antiquities and natural curiosities to the University of Oxford. See Raphaelite paintings, Egyptian mummies and Oliver Cromwell’s death mask.
To 4 Jun: The Needles Excellency. Contemporary work inspired by 17th-century English embroidery in the Ashmolean collection, including caskets and picture panels stitched in a variety of silks and metal threads using raised work techniques. Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. Free admission, charges for special exhibitions. www.ashmolean.org. Beaumont St, Oxford, OX1 2PH. T: 01865278000. Off map. Station: Paddington to Oxford.
See three centuries of treasures in magnificent state rooms at this Baroque palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The palace is set in 2,100 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown parkland and formal gardens. 3- 4 Jun: Triathlon. 8-12 Jun: Giffords Circus. 15-18 Jun: Nocturne Live. A series of outdoor concerts, including one from the composer of the scores for Harry Potter, E.T., Star Wars and Indiana Jones. 23-25 Jun: Blenheim Palace Flower Show. Palace daily 10.30am-5.30pm; park daily 9am- 6pm; formal gardens daily 10.30am- 6pm. Adult £24.90; child £13.90. www.blenheimpalace.com. Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP. T: 01993- 810530. Off map. Paddington to Oxford, then bus S3.
Hampton Court Palace
Once home to King Henry VIII, this Tudor palace and maze is set in 60 acres of parkland right on the river Thames. You could easily spend a day here. Palace, formal gardens and maze daily 10am- 6pm. Adult £23; child £11.50. www.hrp.org.uk. Hampton Court, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. T: 0844- 482 7777. Off map. Station: Waterloo to Hampton Court.
Fairytale 900-year-old castle with a moat, gardens and parkland. Lose yourself in the spiralling yew maze, and see 100 species of birds in the aviary.
To 4 Jun: Chelsea Fringe – Inside Out. The gardeners of Leeds Castle are turning their world ‘inside out’ and reinventing the garden shed with a miniature recreation of Leeds Castle gardens on the inside, and the tools of their trade on the outside. Grounds & gardens daily 10am-6pm; castle daily 10.30am-5.30pm. Adult £24.90; child £16.90. www.leeds-castle.com. Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1PL. T: 01622-765400. Off map. Station: Victoria to Bearsted.
Osterley Park and House
Explore this beautiful country home decorated as it would have been in the 1780s, then stroll its delightful formal gardens or stop for a snack in the stable tearoom. House 11am-5pm; garden 10am-5pm. Adult £10.90; child £5.45. www.nationaltrust.org.uk. Jersey Rd, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4RB. T: 020- 8232 5050. Off map. Station: Osterley/Isleworth.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Queen’s official residence in Scotland stands at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, against the spectacular backdrop of Arthur’s Seat. Tour highlights include the state apartments and Mary, Queen of Scots’ chamber. Daily 9.30am-6pm. Adult £12.50; child £7.50. www.royalcollection.org. uk. Canongate, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH8 8DX. T: 0303-123 7306. Off map. Station: Edinburgh Waverley, then a 15-minute walk.
The world’s most famous stone circle and a World Heritage Site, Stonehenge is more than 5,000 years old. With obscure Neolithic origins, it is perfectly aligned with the rising sun at the solstice. Daily 9am- 8pm. Adult £17.50; child £10.50. www.english-heritage.org.uk. Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE. T: 0870-333 1181. Off map. Station: Waterloo to Salisbury, then bus or taxi.
This stunning Palladian mansion set in parkland is home to the Duke of Northumberland. Don’t miss the incredible interiors, Grade I-listed landscape gardens and Great Conservatory. Please check for times and prices. www.syonpark.co.uk. Syon Park, Brentford, Middlesex, TW8 8JF. T: 020-8560 0882. Off map. Station: Waterloo to Syon Lane.
Renaissance-style chateau built in the late 19th century. Magnificent house and wine cellars, plus gardens and aviary. Please check for times and prices. www.waddesdonmanor.org. Near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP18 0JH. T: 01296653226. Off map. Station: Marylebone to Aylesbury.
Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, this castle is now a family-friendly experience with landscaped gardens designed by ‘Capability’ Brown. To 4 Jun: Wars of the Roses Live! Live jousting tournament. 17 Jun: Kingmakers Medieval Banquet. A four-course meal with drinks and medieval entertainment. Please check for times. Castle adult £26.40; child £23.40; castle & dungeon adult £31.40, child £28.40. www.warwick-castle.com. Warwick, Warwickshire, CV34 6AH. Off map. Station: Warwick.
Watts Gallery Artists’ Village
An arts and crafts gem in the Surrey Hills, with stunning Victorian paintings and sculptures. Visit The Tea Shop, then wander to the nearby Grade I-listed Watts Chapel. Tue-Sun 11am-5pm. Adult £9.50 (Tues £4.75); child free. Down Lane, Compton, Surrey, GU3 1DQ. T: 01483-810235. Off map. Station: Waterloo to Guildford, then bus or taxi.
The Queen’s weekend home and the world’s oldest inhabited castle. Includes state apartments furnished with art by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto. Changing the Guard Mon; Wed; Fri & Sat 11am except Sun. Daily 9.30am-5.30pm. Adult £20.50; child £12. www.royalcollection.org.uk. Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1NJ. T: 0303-123 7304. Off map. Station: Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Central or Windsor & Eton Riverside.
Woburn Abbey and Gardens
Set in a 3,000-acre deer park, this historic house has been home to the earls and dukes of Bedford for nearly 400 years. Daily 11am-5pm. Abbey, gardens and deer park adult £17; child £8.50. www.woburnabbey.co.uk. Woburn, Bedfordshire, MK17 9WA. T: 01525-290333. Off map. Station: St Pancras to Flitwick.