Top 10 most magnificent Country Houses in England
Wondering what the most magnificent Country Houses in England are? From one of the largest privately owned Country Houses in the world, to one of TV’s most iconic homes, here is my top 10 list of what I consider to be the grandest, and most incredible Country Houses and Stately Homes in England.
10. Harewood House
Kicking things off is the spectacular Harewood House, situated close to Leeds in West Yorkshire. I’ve visited Harewood a number of times over the past few years, and it never fails to impress. Built between 1759 and 1771 by Edwin Lascelles, 1st Baron Harewood, Harewood House has a bit of a dubious past.
The Lascelles were wealthy plantation and slave owners, whom having accrued a magnificent wealth, invested it in the construction of Harewood. Designed by the celebrated architect John Carr, the house is certainly pleasing on the eye and sits within one of the most beautiful landscapes in England. The interiors too are utterly magnificent, with Robert Adam working his usual magic. In fact, these are recognized as some of his finest interiors, and the luxurious Long Gallery is certainly a sight to behold.
What makes Harewood so impressive is its beautiful design. The exterior of the house is done in the Palladian style, and unlike many other Georgian Period Houses in England that appear quite similar, Harewood has a certain panache about it and is one of my favorite examples of English Palladianism.
9. Hardwick Hall
Next up is the imposing Hardwick Hall. I actually only visited Hardwick for the first time in 2020, and to say that I was blown away would be an understatement. Built as a Prodigy House, this means Hardwick was built with the sole intention of showing off, and was designed to showcase its owners magnificent wealth and influence.
The house was built by Bess of Hardwick, whom having married no fewer than 4 times, amassed a ginormous wealth, second only to that of Queen Elizabeth. Of course she required a house worthy of her status, and completed in 1597, Hardwick Hall left no one in any doubt about its provenance.
Built to the rules of symmetry, and said to contain more glass that wall, the National Trust’s Hardwick Hall is one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture in England. The Hall is indeed very striking, and you may recognize it as Malfoy Manor in Harry Potter.
Hardwick’s tapestry hung interiors are equally as impressive. Again, clearly designed to impress, the interiors are literally fit for Royalty, with the spectacular Long Gallery serving as the largest surviving Elizabethan Long Gallery in England. The internal spaces at Hardwick are so vast that they absolutely have to be seen to be believed.
Hardwick Hall is perhaps the grandest Prodigy House in England and was also home to one of England’s greatest women. It is truly a house worthy of recognition.
8. Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle is likely most recognizable as the home of Crawley Family in the hit TV series Downton Abbey. Although Downton is set in Yorkshire, This architecturally spectacular house is actually situated in Hampshire and sits within a stunning 1000 acre estate.
The Highclere estate has a long history, dating back to Anglo Saxon times. The house we see today however was built in 1679 when it was purchased by Robert Sawyer, attorney general to Charles II, and also great grandfather of the current Earl of Carnarvon.
Highclere however owes its current striking appearance to Sir John Barry, the architect responsible for designing the Houses of Parliament, who in 1842 Transformed the house into the spectacular castle we know and love today.
The Castle is particularly beautiful and like many other great houses, features a stunning landscape designed by the legendary Landscape gardener, Lancelot capability Brown. The grounds feature no fewer than six 18th century follies and temples, and the 1000 acre parkland has grade 1 listed status.
7. Longleat House
Longleat House is a beautiful Elizabethan period home situated near to Warminster in the South West of England. This stunning Prodigy House is another historic home purporting to be one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture, and is the Seat of the Marquis of Bath.
Built by Sir John Thynn between 1568 and 1580, Longleat was the first of the so called prodigy houses to be built in England, and allegedly the first to be built with the sole intention of wooing the monarch. It’s a spectacularly beautiful Country Home, and its architect Robert Smythson was one most celebrated architects of the time.
The house is quite exceptional and is set within 900 acres of beautiful Capability Brown landscaped parkland. Longleat is famous for being the first Stately Home to open to the public, and also home to the first safari park outside of Africa.
Amazingly, Longleat has remained in the hands of the same family since its inception nearly 450 years ago, and today is home to 7th Marquis of Bath.
6. Lyme Park
Lyme is an absolutely glorious Country House and park nestled on the edge of the Peak District in Cheshire. Lyme was home to the ancient Legh family for over 550 years, with the current house being constructed in the mid 16th century by Piers Legh vii.