One of the most compelling features of the Treasure Houses of England is that most are still homes to the great families who have owned them for generations.
The Beaulieu Estate has been in the ownership of the Montagu family since 1538 when it was purchased by Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. Palace House, home of the current Lord Montagu is built round the13th century Great Gatehouse to Beaulieu Abbey. Originally used as a hunting lodge, two new wings were added to Palace House by John, 2nd Duke of Montagu in the early 1700s and it was extensively remodelled by Lord Henry Scott, grandfather of the present Lord Montagu, in the 1870s. Visitors to the house today can see it furnished in the Victorian style of that period.
Blenheim Palace has a History suitable for a World Heritage Site. The Palace was created to celebrate victory over the French during the Wars of the Spanish Succession. Conceived in 1704, the Palace was a gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough from Queen Anne and a grateful nation. Home today to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, the Palace welcomes visitors to enjoy the magnificent treasures within gilded State Rooms including an exquisite series of tapestries commissioned by the 1st Duke, priceless family portraits, furniture and porcelain. A permanent Churchill Exhibition includes the room where Sir Winston Churchill was born in 1874. A fascinating visitor experience “Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story” reveals enticing tales of the Palace’s inhabitants over the past three centuries. Blenheim Palace is set in over 2,000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped parkland, the great lake and stunning Formal Gardens.
Chatsworth has welcomed visitors for five centuries. Each of the sixteen generations of the Cavendish family has added their own mark and objects to the collection, reflecting individual tastes and passions. Within the house, garden, farmyard or parkland there are hundreds of acres to explore, each space with its own features to experience. Visitors can choose from a huge number of activities, including playing in the adventure playground, learning where food comes from in the farmyard, hunting for sculpture in the garden, or spotting the many wonders within the house and collections.
This year, Hatfield House is celebrating its 400th anniversary. Hatfield House is the home of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family. In 1611, Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury built his fine Jacobean House adjoining the site of the Old Palace of Hatfield. The House was splendidly decorated for entertaining the Royal Court, with State Rooms rich in paintings, fine furniture and tapestries. Superb examples of Jacobean craftsmanship can be seen throughout Hatfield House such as the Grand Staircase with its fine carving and the rare stained glass window in the private chapel (currently being renovated). Displayed throughout the House are many historic mementos collected over the centuries by the Cecils, one of England’s foremost political families.
Holkham has been the home of the Coke family since 1612. The founder of the family fortunes was Sir Edward Coke, the famous lawyer, best known for the trials of Guy Fawkes and Sir Walter Raleigh. He bought land at Holkham for his fourth son and married him to the heiress of another Holkham manor, setting in train the acquisition of the whole parish by future generations. Thomas Coke, created 1st Earl of Leicester in 1744, built Holkham Hall near the site of the old manor house between 1734 and 1764. His successor made Holkham famous for its farming. The family of Viscount Coke, son of the present Earl of Leicester, is the 14th generation to have lived at Holkham.
Woburn Abbey has been the family home of the Earls and Dukes of Bedford for nearly 400 years and is now home to the 15th Duke and his family. It is the home of Afternoon Tea, this great tradition is said to have originated with Anna Maria, wife of the 7th Duke, who entertained her friends here. In fact, the Earls and Dukes of Bedford and their families have been at the centre of many social and political historical events. Discover more about their lives, great tales of imprisonment, beheadings, love affairs, Royal pardons, Prime Ministers, Grand Tours, political reform, Royal state visits and much more.