The Great British Tour

Experience the real world of the country house

  • Exclusive access to private houses around the UK

  • Guests are received by the owners and welcomed as friends, offering a rare chance to connect with the houses and the people who keep them thriving today

  • Tours tailormade to your own interests: whether you love Georgian elegance or Baroque drama, literary connections or simply want a taste of every period

  • Stay as guests in the houses themselves or in luxurious boutique hotels

  • Small groups, of a maximum of eight, with families welcome

  • Experts will accompany you and bring the stories behind the bricks and marble alive

  • Enjoy black-tie dinners with house owners and discuss the challenges facing them in the 21st century, how the house has changed and what it's truly like to live there

  • Trips arranged and led by Oliver Gerrish (below left, with Tixall the Patterdale terrier), architectural historian, author and raconteur, together with Zuleika Parkin, cake-maker extraordinaire and art historian, who both possess a wealth of fascinating anecdotes from lifetimes spent exploring the secrets of Britain's homes

Highlights

  • Houghton Hall, Norfolk (top left): one of England's greatest Palladian houses, built for Sir Robert Walpole in the 1720s and home to David, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley

  • Weston Park, Shropshire (middle left): the seat of the Earls of Bradford, a classical 
    17th-century house set in a landscape designed by 'Capability' Brown

  • Tissington Hall, Derbyshire (below left): a Jacobean house at the heart of its own estate village, and home of the Fitzherbert family, 'entertaining since 1609'

  • Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Cumbria (below): as the home of William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, this idyllic white-washed cottage in the heart of the Lake District saw the birth of some of the most beloved poetry in the English language

  • Stansted Park, West Sussex (below right): an Edwardian country house set in 1,800 acres on the edge of the South Downs, former home of the 10th Earl of Bessborough

  • The Drum, Midlothian, Scotland (background image): built by William Adam, father of Robert Adam, in the early 18th century, an architecturally fascinating classical house on the outskirts of Edinburgh not usually open to the public

  • Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire: a spectacular 18th-century mansion with the longest facade, at more than 600ft, of any private house in Britain, and the original home of George Stubbs's superb equestrian portrait Whistlejacket

  • Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire: the four-square, castellated seat of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry with spectacular views 

Tours can be arranged to any length. Six-day tour for four people: £7,000 (about $9,200)