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Stately Home Experience Days & Gifts

Stately Homes: Everything you need to know

When it comes to stately homes, there aren’t many more stately than the Queen’s house. Visit the gallery at Buckingham Palace and gawp at the Rembrants and the corgis, then pop over the road to the Thistle Westminster or the Grosvenor Victoria for an afternoon tea that’s fit for royalty.

It even includes a glass of Champagne to make you feel dead suave. You can also take afternoon tea at the truly magnificent Royal Pavillion in Brighton; built in 1787 and later purchased by Queen Victoria, it was re-designed in the 19th century to mimic Indian architecture and was one of the most stupidly extravagant and ornate buildings in England. Now you can sit in it and eat cakes, which is even more amazing.

If you’re not sure where your companion would like to dine, the Historic voucher is a really good choice. Just buy today and choose tomorrow: you can take tea at Edinburgh Castle, Kensington Palace, the Royal Yacht Britannia or any number of other places.

Not bothered about afternoon tea? OK then, just purchase our English Heritage membership and enjoy free entry to all their properties for a year. You’ll also get discounts for their events.

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FAQs

Q: I need to escape to drab confines of my two-up, two-down, but how?
A: How about a day visiting one the UK’s splendid stately homes?
Q: Won’t that make me feel terrible, considering I live on a shelf?
A: No! It will cheer you up immensely. We have some of the best ones knocking about for you to scurry up to.
Q: Like which?
A: All the big hitters, such as Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Edinburgh Castle, Blenheim Palace, the Royal Pavillion in Brighton, even the Royal Yacht Britannia!
Q: But what can I do there, besides ogle?
A: Ogling the historic dainties is a big part of it, but often these trips are tied into a delicious afternoon tea. So look at old stuff, have a cake and then look at more old stuff.
Q: Afternoon tea – I have no concept of that?
A: You know, it’s the usual tea, cakes, sandwiches, scones and a combination of all or none of them. There may even be a glass of champagne involved. Just take a look at the description on the experience you’re considering for the full rundown.
Q: But what if I’m aggressively disgusted by cucumber?
A: Not a problem. If you have any particular dietary restrictions, or you’re vegetarian, just make your food status known when booking your experience, they should be able to sort you out.
Q: Oh my goodness, all this choice, I may literally explode.
A: Please don’t. If you’re not sure which stately home to visit or getting it as a gift, you can pick up our Historic Afternoon Tea experience, which offer five different glorious locations. Purchase the voucher and then book the experience for a date that suits you (or them). And of course they can always swop their voucher for something else, easily and painlessly on our website.
Q: And if I wish to cast my net further?
A: Why not get one of our English Heritage experiences? This allows you free entry into any English Heritage locations for a full year.
Q: What they got.
A: Their amazing venues include over 400 sites of historic interest including chapels, abbeys, magnificent gardens, mansions, castles and Roman ruins.
Q: But I’ve got this cough – can I get some money off?
A: We do offer both OAP and Family rates for our English Heritage membership. Plus we frequently run sales and offers on our site. Just keep them peeled and some fabulous discounts are bound to crop up.

Fun Facts

  • 1. Blenheim Palace is the only non-royal country house in England to hold the title of palace. So that special club I visit ‘Palace of Nice Ladies’ on the Finchley Road doesn’t count?
  • 2. It wasn’t until the reign of Queen Victoria in 1837, that Buckingham Palace replaced St James’s Palace as the official London residence of the British monarch. And she only had to wait a few scant years until Brian May was on her roof playing a guitar solo.
  • 3. There are secret tunnels under the streets of London connecting Clarence House to Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. Well, they were secret until I just told you about them. But, you know, try to keep it to yourself.
  • 4. Edinburgh Castle is built on a 700 million year old extinct volcano called Castle Rock and there has been a royal castle on the site since at least the 12th century. Castle Rock was also my wrestling name for a brief period, but it was hard to manoeuvre in all that stone armour.
  • 5. In 1514 Cardinal Wolsey, began building Hampton Court Palace but Wolsey fell from favour and King Henry VIII took Hampton Court Palace for his own. So it was a sort of royal gazumping?
  • 6. When a fire broke out at the Tower of London in 1841, nobody could find the keys and the keepers had to hack the bars apart with an axe to save the royal jewels. I would not want an axe anywhere near my royal jewels.
  • 7. In 1738, King George II was accosted and harassed in Kensington Gardens by a man dressed in women’s clothes. Well, if you are planning to harass a king, you may as well dress fancy.
  • 8. Lower-ranking courtiers at Hampton Court Palace shared a toilet which emptied into the river which could seat up to 14 people at one time. Please, don’t give Ryanair any more ideas, I beg you!
  • 9. The phrase ‘stately home’ was first used in a poem by Felicia Hemans called The Homes of England, published in Blackwood's Magazine in 1827. I’ll assume it was in the form of a filthy limerick which began ‘There was a stately home named Regina...’
  • 10. In the 1930’s Noel Coward wrote a satirical song entitled ‘The Stately Homes of England’ with lyrics such as ‘The Stately Homes of England / How beautiful they stand / To prove the upper classes / Have still the upper hand’. AND they put on a lovely Afternoon Tea Noel, just try one of our experiences and find out for yourself.