The best historic houses to visit near London
Looking for the perfect day trip? We've compiled a list of the loveliest historic houses to visit near London
Charterhouse re-opened its doors to the public in 2017 for the first time since 1348. Visitors are now allowed inside this renovated museum dedicated to telling the central London house's many, many stories. Formerly a monastery, then Tudor mansion, then a school (now moved to its present Surrey location), it's now an almshouse for 40 residents and a period drama director's dream.
Admission is free, tours from £12
Located in central London
Located just beyond Bexley Heath, Red House is an oasis of walled gardens and orchards. The exquisite red brick house was commissioned by William Morris and beloved by the Pre-Raphaelite artists.
The café in Morris’ original kitchen is complete with Arts and Crafts-style furniture, and we love the higgidy pies. The gift shop in the Coach House sells Morris & Co. design stationary, ceramics, textiles and books. Don’t miss the Pre-Raphaelite wall painting or Morris’ early floral designs in the bedroom, discovered in 2013.
Adults £8.40, Children £4.20
Only 45 minutes from London Bridge
The Rothschild family's magnificent Buckinghamshire Manor combines High Victorian eccentricity with the architecture of a French Chateau and has plenty of activities and attractions to amuse the family for a day out.
The Coach House is a fantastic temporary exhibition space, which has hosted some interesting displays, including Power & Portraiture: painting at the court of Elizabeth I. To relax after all that culture, make a beeline for the Stables shop that sells the finest fudge and sweets in any stately home.
Adults £21, Children £11.50
Only two hours from London Marylebone
Greater London's gloriously Gothic stately home bucked contemporary trends for Georgian order in favour of dramatic medieval flourishes. The gardens are also magnificent with Walpole’s grove of lime trees and a wonderful Shell Bench. The Teddy Bears Picnic is a lovely children’s event on the grounds themselves.
Adults £12.50, Students £6.25, Under-16s free
Only 40 minutes from Waterloo Station
With a rags to riches backstory and a guestbook that boasts the most elite figures over the last few centuries, Surrey stately home Polesden Lacey is well-deserving of its spot on the list of the National Trust's most visited properties. Families are welcome, with lawn games, family tours, quizzes, and trails, and a croquet lawn is available for hire via pre-booking. The South Lawn’s deck chairs make a comfy picnic site.
When you get hungry, you can grab a bite to eat at the Granary Café, which uses produce from Polesden’s kitchen garden, or you can get breakfast, brunch or tea at the Cowshed Coffee shop. The delicious pasties here come straight from Conisbee’s farm next door.
Adults £13.60, Children £6.80
One hour from Waterloo Station
Along with the dubious title of 'most haunted house in England' Ham House is also famed for the decadence of its decoration. So, whether or not you see a spirit, there are plenty of treasures to discover. For families there are art activities and a trail, with outdoor games also available to hire from the shop.
The Orangery Café, inspired by the beautiful walled kitchen garden where much of its food is grown, is great for a cream tea in summer, and the Tea Shed sells seasonal refreshments.
Adults £12.50, Children £6.25
Only 50 minutes from Waterloo Station
A little further out (but worth every effort): Chatsworth House
Dowager Duchess of Devonshire & Stella Tennant, Chatsworth House, British Vogue, 2006 © Mario Testino
Venture to the small town of Bakewell in the Peak District and you'll find it dominated by landscape and the imposing Chatsworth Estate. The manor was once owned by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and the Mitford sisters. The house itself is an architectural feast, but it also has a noteworthy art gallery, farmyard and playground for kids big and small.
Adults between £7 - £24, Children between £7-14.50
Three hours and 10 minutes from London St. Pancras