Stately homes in Hertfordshire: 7 grand estates to visit
PUBLISHED: 16:27 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:35 11 March 2019
Opulent country houses, perfectly kept formal gardens and sweeping parkland vistas: Hertfordshire’s stately homes make perfect days out
• Ashridge, Berkhamsted
Nestled in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is the Ashridge Estate, a grand country house with gardens and parkland that cover 5,000 acres of thick woodland. It is part of the National Trust and visitors are free to visit the grounds and explore the pretty woodlands and surrounding chalk hills. Keep an eye out for the Bridgewater Monument which you’ll see poking out over the treetops as you follow the walking and cycling trails. Visit the Ashridge Estate website for opening times.
Built as a monastery in the late 13th century, Ashridge House is now a prestigious business school. Each year there are a limited number of house and garden tours throughout the summer. The exceptionally well kept gardens cover nearly 200 acres and are comprised of small gardens including the Italian Garden, the Flower Garden and a new Herb Garden, among others. Visit the website for more details of house and garden tours. Note: the estate is managed by National Trust and the house and gardens are private with limited visiting opportunities.
• The Gorhambury Estate, St Albans
The Gorhambury Estate is made up of the ruins of Old Gorhambury house, the newer Gorhambury House and an ancient Roman theatre. Visitors can walk through the history of the estate that dates back as far as 1,900 years. Take a tour through the Grade II* listed neo-Palladian Gorhambury House built in 1784 before strolling through the grounds to the poignant remains of Old Gorhambury built in the 16th century, and finally the Roman theatre built in 140AD.
Visitors are welcomed by appointment. Check website for full details and events such as talks.
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• Hatfield House, Hatfield
With an impressive interior and a wealth of fascinating history within its walls, Hatfield House was completed in 1611 and is frequented by visitors who flock to see its true Jacobean grandeur. Pore over the Tudor paintings, including the iconic Rainbow Portrait, let the ceiling in the Marble Hall take you by surprise as you step into the grand room and feel like royalty while ascending the intricately carved Grand Staircase.
The carefully landscaped gardens are a pleasure to walk through, and the estate includes a deer park and plenty of nature to get lost in – so don’t forget the camera! Check website for opening times and prices.
• Knebworth House, Knebworth
The grand exterior of Knebworth House is an evocative and sympathetic introduction to the history of this fascinating stately home. Inside, the stunning Victorian décor that runs through the house remains as a testament to the generations of families who have left their mark there. With over 500 years of history to its name, Knebworth House now serves as a popular live music venue – providing a historical backdrop to performances by some well-known names.
The gardens span 28 acres and include a dinosaur trail for kids and even a maze. For Knebworth House opening times, check the website. Tickets for the park and house are £14 for adults and £13.50 for concessions. Check the website for special events.
• Benington Lordship, Stevenage
In the picturesque village of Benington, you’ll find the Benington Lordship estate that includes a beautiful Georgian manor house, floral gardens and the remains of a Norman motte-and-bailey castle. The manor house was built in the early 18th century with the striking gatehouse following in 1832. Note the architectural variance added as time went on, with an Edwardian extension being built in 1905.
Take a stroll around the carp pond and gardens that look over to the rolling Hertfordshire countryside surrounding the magnificent estate. Please check the website before visiting as opening times vary throughout the year.
• Bhaktivedanta Manor, Aldenham
Known as an ‘oasis of spiritual inspiration’, Bhaktivedanta Manor in Aldenham is owned by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness which you may know as the Hare Krishna movement and was donated by its most famous follower George Harrison of the Beatles. There is even a garden within the 70 acres of land surrounding the manor called the ‘George Harrison Garden’.
The house itself is a late 19th century mock-Tudor building but was once an actual Tudor manor. You can see the stunning Victorian interiors, and enjoy the gardens, lake and woodland walks too. For information about guest tours, visit the website; admission and parking are free.
• Brocket Hall, Welwyn
There has been some form of grand house on the Brocket Hall grounds since at least 1239, but the current building dates back to 1760, built by celebrated architect James Paine for Sir Mathew Lamb. Now a venue for business meetings, weddings and private parties, the hall has 30 bedrooms that are quintessentially British in decoration with a resplendent twist. There is even butler service! The red brick exterior is a sight to behold and stands proudly over the Hertfordshire countryside.
The elegant grounds include a golf course, lakeside restaurant, and a historical stone bridge that crosses the water and rolling parkland. The lakeside restaurant, Auberge du Lac, is a converted hunting lodge, and features in our round up of some great places to eat in the county.