Great Britain is one of the best places to be if you're into your stately homes. The number of country houses, palaces and castles nestled within our green borders is staggering, each one boasting its own individual history and lore. Besides the obvious choices, like Buckingham Palace and Sandringham House, we've got a host of smaller offerings sure to delight and enchant any lover of good architecture and refined taste. Here's are some of our favourites, each one worthy of a starring role in any period drama (and a good number of them actually had one!).
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
The pride of Derbyshire, the Peak District's darling; this magnificent stately home is one of Britain's finest, taking everything that makes a good country house and dialling it up to 11. Some gorgeous landscaping, set over rolling hills and the River Derwent, precedes the house itself whose beautiful stonework retains its impact to this day.
Undergoing several renovations during its time, Chatsworth was built over the remains of an older Tudor house commissioned by the Earl of Devonshire in 1707. Since then, it has seen several changes and is perhaps most famous for its appearance as Pemberly in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
Castle Howard, North Yorkshire
100 years in the making, Castle Howard is a Baroque masterpiece hidden up in the North Yorkshire countryside at the head of a considerable estate. It belongs to the Howard family and has done so for more than 300 years, resting on the remains of an old military castle, hence the name. Resplendent interiors combine with an impressive façade to make this a stately home well worth visiting.
A great deal of the house was destroyed by a fire in 1940, which ripped through the building, eviscerating the central hall and dining room in the process. It has since been restored and has gone from strength to strength since, racking up a number of film appearances including Barry Lyndon and Brideshead Revisited.
Drumlanrig Castle, Scotland
Think Wolf Hall, think Beauty and the Beast, think cinematic masterpiece. Done? Well now you have a vague idea of what Drumlanrig Castle may look like. From rolling landscaped gardens of pristine pulchritude, to the striking pink of the turrets and walls of the building itself, Drumlanrig Castle rises dramatically above the surrounding forests as if it's been placed there straight from the pages of a fairy-tale book. Situated near Dumfries, this 17th century castle was constructed using red sandstone, lending it the nickname of the 'pink castle'
Its impressive 90,000-acre estate was even used for the TV series, Outlander and in its halls can be found an astonishingly large collection of famous art including a painting by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci himself.
Plas Newydd, Anglesey, Wales
Plas Newydd perches on the south coast of the island of Anglesey, all the way up in North Wales. Its unique location, placed on the banks of the Menai Strait, separating Anglesey from the rest of the country, gives this mansion the edge over other possible Welsh stately homes that we could have included. Built in the 18th century, the interior was redesigned again in the mid-20th century to incorporate the best innovations of the era.
Plas Newydd hosts an extensive collection of artworks by famous British artist Rex Whistler whose work was much admired by the Marquess of Anglesey, he was even invited to stay at the house as an honoured guest of the Marquess himself. His most well-known mural is painted in these halls, the dazzlingly romantic 'Seascape Fantasy'.
Highclere Castle, West Berkshire
This entry is most likely known best as Downtown Abbey, home to the Crawley Family in the television show of the same name. A Victorian country house, dressed up in Jacobean style, greets visitors who can cross the verdant estate to discover a wonderful stately home which belongs these days to the Earl of Carnarvon. It was also famously used as the filming location for the comedy television series Jeeves and Wooster.
The gardens here were created by Capability Brown, whose extensive work earned him the title of 'England's Greatest Gardener'. It is this man who is responsible for the rolling meadows and fields of many upstanding British stately homes, and his work took inspiration from various sources including ancient Greek mythology and Renaissance masterpieces.