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Stately Homes in and Around Oxfordshire

The stately homes of Oxfordshire range from the largest – Blenheim Palace – Britain’s only private and magnificent palace – to some of the smallest such as Kelmscott Manor.

Blenheim Palace surely merits a full day’s trip; its magnificent state rooms are complemented by award-winning formal gardens and landscaped parkland. See the 2014 special exhibition commemorating the role of the Palace in WWI.

Kelmscott Manor – the idyllic summer retreat of William Morris, his wife Janey, and Rossetti, furnished with hangings and paintings by this skilled and talented trio.

Stonor Park – in an isolated valley, the site of the Catholic Edmund Campion’s secret printing press. The house has priest holes to allow priests to hide from the Justice of the Peace. Set in its own deer park, Stonor also has a stone circle and delightful walled garden. The castles built by the Normans are now mostly ruined (Oxford and Wallingford) but

Broughton Castle (b. 1306) remains a much-loved family home with beautiful gardens, celebrated in the film Shakespeare in Love.

Buscot Park with gardens designed by Peto, hosts the Faringdon Collection of works of art including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, van Dyke, Murillo and Reynolds.

Sulgrave Manor: home of George Washington’s ancestors. See the old family crest – the stars and stripes – over the entrance.

Waterperry Gardens include one of only two commercial apple orchards in the county – stock up on fruit and apple juice.

Newington Gardens, a remarkable garden centre and tea room, specialises in orchids on display and for sale all year.

Batsford Arboretum, the country’s largest privately-owned collection of trees and shrubs is a delight, especially in spring and autumn

Westonbirt Arboretum: An internationally renowned tree collection, heritage landscape and fantastic location for playing, walking, relaxing and learning about nature.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens: whose Head Gardener is one of the judges at Chelsea Flower Show. The gardens are a joy all year round. Enough said.

Greys Court (NT) an intimate family home in the Chilterns, with maze and a unique donkey wheel used to raise water. Grey’s Court was the setting for a large family picnic in Downton Abbey. The area was notorious for such water shortages that an Indian Maharaja was moved to pay for an ornate village well at nearby Stoke Row, in use until the 1960s.

Waddesdon Manor, exemplifying the phrase ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’ is set amid gloriously exuberant carpet- bedding floral displays – some in startling bubblegum pink – the exact copy of the original designs.

Hidcote‘s great Arts and Crafts garden has been famous for many a year, divided into ‘rooms’, each with its own special character. Some people just choose a bench and sit there…… Some stately homes such as the Manor at Weston-on-the Green and Heythrop Manor, with its historic landscaped garden and golf course, offer accommodation too. The Old Swan and Minster Mill has an idyllic riverside location but for real atmosphere you can’t beat the Oxford Mal – Oxford’s former prison – look out for the 15-person disco shower.

Fallowfields Country House Hotel with its excellent restaurant, serves the fresh beef, pork, poultry and vegetables raised in its ground. Gorselands Hall, situated near the remains of Stonesfield Roman villa, has an ‘antique’ feel. The Feathered Nest at Nether Westcote, has shot to fame for its exceptional comfort, food and service. Sudbury House Hotel, near Faringdon, is an excellent base for touring the southern Cotswolds, as is the Wroxton House Hotel for exploring the north Cotswolds and Ironstone Hills. And if you want to mingle with mates of Dukes, you could try Hope House in Woodstock, its walls adorned with rude messages from (a previous) Duke of Marlborough to the owner’s ancestor. Of course, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons has to be the grandest of all.

Information courtesy of Visit Oxfordshire


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