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Historic Houses of the South West - Architecture, collections, gardens, history

A grand tour of nine magnificent country houses, with many key architectural 
periods represented.

Important picture collections at Corsham Court and Kingston Lacy, and a branch of 
the National Portrait Gallery at Montacute.

All aspects of life in a “big house” explained by our expert speaker.

Beautiful formal gardens, flower gardens 
and landscaped parks.


  • Wilton House, Double Cube Room, ©Wilton House.
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This is not just a chance to explore some of our finest country houses. It’s an opportunity to consider the complexity of the English country estate – as we travel through a series of rural landscapes and examine the relationship between parkland, farms, kitchen gardens and recreational gardens. The houses themselves mark many decisive architectural shifts: from the long gallery and vast mullioned windows of Elizabethan Montacute, through the 17th-century Palladianism of Wilton, to Stourhead’s perfect 18th-century neoclassicism. There are important picture collections to be enjoyed, too, and acres of formal and flower gardens and picturesque parks.

Day 1

The coach leaves Bath Spa Railway Station at 1pm. Enchanting Dyrham Park is in a mild Baroque style, and home to a collection of Dutch masters (and 200 fallow deer). A lecture at the hotel is followed by dinner.

Day 2

The garden range of Wilton House is the masterpiece of 17th-century English Palladianism, the famous double cube room built to accommodate portraits by Van Dyck. Kingston Lacy is a generation later, and houses a celebrated collection of Old Masters.

Day 3

Montacute House is one of the loveliest and least altered of all Elizabethan mansions, and is an outstation of the National Portrait Gallery. The home of Sir Walter Raleigh, Sherborne Castle is also Elizabethan, with Jacobean additions.

Day 4

Longleat is one of the largest and architecturally most progressive of the big Elizabethan houses. By contrast, 18th-century Stourhead is little more than a villa, but the landscaped park with its temples and vistas is of global importance.

Day 5

Corsham Court has an outstanding Old Master collection. Then it’s onto Lacock Abbey, an intriguing Henrician house, retaining the cloister of an Augustinian nunnery. Ends at Bath Spa Railway Station by 5pm.


£1,180 per person sharing in a double room.

£1,305 for one person in a double room.

Flights are not included.


Accommodation and meals

The hotel: Best Western Leigh Park, Bradford-on-Avon (3 star).

Included meals: daily breakfasts and two dinners (with wine).


Getting around

Our coach rarely parks near the houses, many of which have extensive grounds. Expect quite a lot of walking, and stairs.


Guaranteed departure

There is no minimum number of clients required for this trip to run.


Maximum group size

27 participants.


Joining and leaving the trip

Flight and trains are not included, you make your own way to and from the starting and finishing point of the trip. Frequent trains run between London Paddington and Bath Spa railway stations. For more information about travelling to Bath please visit Please note CTC does not arrange international or domestic travel.