If you feel like spending some time immersing yourself in a spot of history, then visiting one of Banburyshire’s country houses and gardens could the perfect way to spend a few hours. Here you’ll find all the info you need for a splendid day out in the country. Please check for seasonal opening dates and times as not all houses have year-round entry.
Black Taxi Tour from London
Stately Homes and Gardens of England
Spend a day admiring some of England’s beautiful stately homes and gardens on a private full-day London black taxi tour. Depart London by iconic black cab with an expert driver-guide, and visit Bowood House, the magnificent 18th-century Wiltshire home of the Lansdowne family. Admire the house and gorgeous gardens landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown before using the rest of the day to explore the house of your choice from the six available, such as Blenheim Palace and Sulgrave Manor.
Day Trip from London
Downton Abbey Village, Blenheim Palace and Cotswolds
Experience England’s rural and historical treasures, and the fictional Downton Abbey village, on this full-day trip from London with an expert guide. Marvel at splendid Blenheim Palace, country house where Sir Winston Churchill was born, and discover the enchanting scenery of the Cotswolds, with visits to Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water. Lastly, explore the pretty village of Bampton to see some of the locations where the TV series, ‘Downton Abbey’, was filmed. Enjoy lunch here before returning to London.
Broughton Castle is not what might call a traditional castle but is actually a fortified manor house, just to the west of Banbury.
Built in local Hornton ironstone and set within rolling parkland, it has a typical English charm – both inside and out – and is regarded as one of the top 20 houses in the country. The grounds are used for grazing sheep but can be used for walking, picnicking or just chilling out as you view the rolling countryside that surrounds the area.
Inside you’ll discover rooms adorned with tapestries, artworks, classical furniture and even a suit of arms. The gardens extend towards the small but perfectly beautiful St. Mary’s church. Within the church lies various tombs including the ornately decorated tomb dedicated to Sir John of Broughton.
Keep a look out for special events throughout the summer season such as dragon boat races, fetes and cycling festivals.
The house, garden and tearoom are open on Wednesdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays from 1st April until 30th September from 2-5pm, with last admission at 4.30pm.
There is no entry fee if you are just visiting the tearoom on an open day.
Groups of any size can visit on any day of the year by appointment.
Broughton Castle, Banbury, OX15 5EB.
Farnborough Hall is situated close to Burton Dassett Hills in the north east end of Banburyshire. The Holbech family have owned the estate since 1684 and still do to this day.
The gardens are an outstanding example of the work of landscape designer Sanderson Miller who lived at nearby Ratley. He also contributed to Upton House and Wroxton Abbey. At Farnborough he included water features, follies, a mile long walk, hedge and tree planting and a striking obelisk at the walk’s terminus.
The walkway offers majestic views over the Serpentine water pool – looking for all the world like a river as it slinks it’s way through the meandering valleys of Warwickshire, but there’s also another large pool at the front of the property close by the car-park, which is perfect for a short looped walk.
Entry to the house is by guided tour only at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm. Tickets can be booked in advance or on the day with limited places. To make a booking please contact Farnborough Hall.
House & terraced walk: Adult: £6.70 / Child: £3.35 / Family: £16.75.
Terraced walk only: Adult: £3.90 / Child: £1.95 / Family: £9.75.
Farnborough, Warwickshire, OX17 1DU.
Upton House is a 17th century mansion in the civil parish of Ratley and Upton, in the county of Warwickshire a few miles northwest of Banbury. It is run by the National Trust and features a wonderful art collection started by Lord and Lady Bearsted that includes tapestries, paintings and porcelain. It also has a garden that has been in use since the 12th century, with cascading terraces, an ornamental lake, rose garden and herbaceous borders.
There are themed guided tours each day from 11am-1pm, with timed tickets available on arrival.
11am-5pm every day except Thursdays.
Adult: £11.45 / Child: £5.70 / Family £28.50 / Adult Groups (minimum of 15): £10.
Near Edgehill, Warwickshire, OX15 6HT.
The Broughton Grange Estate has one of the most impressive private gardens in the country. Since 2001 the gardens, which cover around 80 acres, have been carefully landscaped into the surrounding countryside by designer Tom Stuart-Smith. You’ll find a walled garden, themed terraces, a bog garden, an arboretum and a wildflower meadow – all situated in a picturesque setting. With Broughton Castle and Crouch Hill standing to the north and east, and the start of the cotswolds stretching out to the west, the Broughton Grange Estate sits within a beautiful part of the Banburyshire countryside and is well worth a visit.
2pm-5pm (last admission 4.30pm) on Wednesdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, from 1st April until 30th September.
Adults: £9 / Child (aged 5-15): £5 / Concessions (students and over 65) £8 / Garden only and ground floor wheelchair access: £5.
Private guided tours (by appointment): Adults: £9 / Child (aged 5-15) £6 / Concessions (students and over 65) £9 / Garden only and ground floor wheelchair access: £6.
There is no entry fee if you are just visiting the tearoom on an open day.
Broughton, Banbury, OX15 5EB.
Close to the Saxon and Norman earthwork of Castle Hill in the village of Sulgrave, is the house that was once owned by the family of former President of the United States, George Washington. In 1540 the Crown sold Sulgrave Manor to one Lawrence Washington, a wool merchant who had once been the Mayor of Northampton. In 1656, the grandfather of George Washington emigrated to Virginia and started a new family there. The rest is history.
The house itself is relatively unassuming but was built upon from Tudor foundations which indicate that the original dwelling was actually larger than the Grade I listed building that stands today. The house was bought by the public in 1914 and became the base for the Peace Centenary Committee; a society that helps forge relations and communications between the UK and the US. In the wooden panelled Great Hall is a portrait of the president, watching over the largest collection of George Washington memorabilia in the UK. The garden covers four acres of land and was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield in the 1920s.
Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 1st April until 30th September from 11am-5pm with last admission at 4pm. Tea room closes at 4.30pm.
Adult: £7.20 / Child (5-16 years): £3.60 / Family (2 adults & up to 3 children): £20 / Concessions: £6.75.
Admission allows entry to both the house and garden. Season tickets are also available.
Manor Road, Sulgrave, Oxfordshire, OX17 2SD.
Wroxton Abbey Gardens
The gardens which were established in 1727 surround a Jacobean house which used to be the residence of Lord North, who was for a short while the Prime Minister during the fateful American War of Independence. The serpentine lake features a water cascade and a follies created by Sanderson Miller. These include a Dovecot to the front of the property, the Drayton Arch which stands opposite an obelisk and lines up to the Temple-on-the-Mount to the garden’s south side. There is a knot garden and a flower garden as you enter the tree-lined path that surrounds the lake. It is a picturesque site and perfect for walking in nature on a sunny summers day.
The formar abbey is now home to the British campus of New Jersey’s Fairleigh Dickinson University. The American author Henry James said of Wroxton; “Everything that in the material line can render life noble and charming has been gathered into it with a profusion which makes the whole place a monument of past opportunity.”
Dawn until dusk all year round.
Free entry to the gardens, no entry to the abbey building.
Dark Lane, Wroxton, Oxfordshire, OX15 6PX.
Rousham House Gardens
Rousham House gardens were designed and landscaped by Yorkshireman William Kent in the 18th century and was one of the first landscape gardens in the country. The gardens are often celebrated as one the best in the UK. The act of walking through them almost feels like being transported back to those times, with ponds and cascades, temples and statues, follies and eye-catchers around every turn. The statues of Venus, of Pan and of Apollo all evoke a mythic splendour and an age when paradise seemed in reach for the wealthy of the time.
The house was built in 1635 by Sir Robert Dormer and is still owned by the Dormer family. If you do wish to see inside then you’ll have to make special arrangements. It looks over the River Cherwell which winds its way from Northamptonshire, through Banbury and down to the Thames/Isis at Oxford.
Gardens: Every day all year-round from 10am until dusk. Last admission at 4.30pm.
House (only by prior arrangement): £12 per person with a mimimum fee of £144.
£6 per person. No children allowed (under 15) unless by prior arrangement.
No dogs allowed.
Rousham, Bicester, OX25 4QU.
Canons Ashby House
Canons Ashby House is a Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house situated in the eastern edge of Banburyshire, between Banbury and Northampton. The puritan Dryden family built the house upon an original medieval priory building and owned the house throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. It is one of Northamptonshire’s oldest great houses and is now owned by the National Trust, surviving largely unaltered since 1710.
Inside, you’ll find many interesting features, decorations and furniture, Elizabethan wall paintings, stunning tapestries, a domed Jacobean plasterwork ceiling and a painted parlour with a unique piece of baroque trompe-l’eoil.
The parkland has formal gardens and terraces and old fruit trees, with a medieval church nestled alongside. The Green Court has topiary and a lead statue by John van Nost, depicting a shepherd boy playing a flute with a dog at his feet, in recognition of a real shepherd who stood as a watch-out during the English Civil War while the family hosted some Parliamentarian ‘Roundhead’ soldiers. It is said he raised the alarm of an impending attack, but as the Royalist ‘Cavaliers’ approached the house, they killed him on the spot. The statue stands in memory to this un-named shepherd boy.
House: 1pm – 5pm.
Garden, church, tea room, park and shop: 10am – 5pm.
Please note; some parts of the house and gardens may be closed for conservation work in the winter and early spring.
Whole property: Adult: £10.27 / Child: £5.27 / Family: £26.54 / Adult Groups (min 15): £8.50 / Child Groups (min 15): £4.25.
Gardens only: Adult: £4.72 / Child: £2.36 / Family: £12.09 / Adult Groups (min 15): £4.50 / Child Groups (min 15): £2.25.
Canons Ashby, Daventry, NN11 3SD.
Situated in stunning, sprawling gardens in the small towns of Woodstock and Bladon, Blenheim palace is the main residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, and the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. Named after the 1704 Battle of Blenheim, it was designed and built by Sir John Vanbrugh between 1705 and 1722, with the gardens, originally designed by Capability Brown, taking shape over the following centuries as new features and landscapes were added. The land and house were given as a reward to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough for his military triumphs including the Battle of Blenheim.
Upon completion there followed some turbulent times which ended in the Duke’s exile. The Churchill (later Spencer-Churchill) family has owned it for the last 300 years and continue to be custodians today. The palace was saved from ruin at the end of the 19th century, with funds gained from the 9th Duke of Marlborough’s marriage to the American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt.
The palace is the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, who also proposed to his future wife by the lake. He is buried nearby at St. Martin’s Church in Bladon.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the palace stands as one of England’s greatest architectural landmarks and is a must-visit for anyone in and around Banburyshire.
Palace: 10.30am – 5.30pm (last entry 4.45pm), until 28th October
Park: 9am – 6.30pm or dusk if earlier
Formal Gardens: 10am – 6pm, until 28th October
The East Courtyard Shop: 9.30am – 6pm
The Pleasure Gardens: 10am – 6pm
The Orangery Restaurant: 12pm – 5.30pm
The Oxfordshire Pantry: 9.30am – 6pm
The Water Terrace Café: 10am – 6pm
The Pleasure Gardens Pizza Café: 10am – 5.30pm
Palace, Park & Gardens: (Buy One Day Get 12 Months Free.) Adult: £27.00 / Concessions: £24.00 / Child (5-16): £15.50, Free for under 5s / Family: £65.50.
Park & Gardens Only: Adult: £16.00 / Concessions: £13.00 / Child (5-16): £7.40, Free for under 5s / Family: £43.00.
Woodstock, OX20 1PP.
Situated near Kineton in the rolling south Warwickshire countryside, is a huge mansion that has evolved through the years since it was originally built by Richard Verney Esquire in 1442. The house was passed down through the family for hundreds of years until the last Verney to own it, Richard Greville Verney (1869-1923), 19th Baron Willoughby de Broke, reluctantly sold it after years of decline, due to the effects of the agricultural depression of the 1870s and 1880s.
Landscaped gardens were designed and executed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown from 1769 onwards, the house and it’s parkland extensively remodelled to incorporate cedar trees, over 2,200 oak and ash saplings, the Ice House for refrigeration and a single expanse of water in keeping with the new taste for a more naturalistic landscape, removing the old formal gardens in the process. In the 19th century, a majestic crescent of Wellingtonia (a controversial name for Americans, it is also known as Giant Sequoias or Sierra Redwoods), which were hurriedly imported into the UK from San Francisco in the Victorian age.
Today the house and it’s gardens are in the capable hands of the Compton Verney House Trust, after the Peter Moores Foundation saved the house in 1993. Whilst the mansion was being turned into a state of the art gallery, the Park was used as a space to host artworks by a number of contemporary artists as part of the ‘Art in the Park’ project. The house was reopened as a nationally accredited art gallery in March 2004. Since then, Compton Verney House has featured many celebrated and up and coming artists from all over the world and continues to expand it’s educational projects for it’s visitors.
Well worth a visit if you are in or around Banburyshire!
Tuesday – Sunday & Bank Holiday Mondays only
Exhibitions, Galleries & Activities: 11am – 5pm
Compton Kitchen: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Welcome Centre: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Park: 10.30am – 6pm (last entry 4.30pm)
Day Ticket (includes exhibition): Adult: £13.60 / Child (5-15): £5, Free for under 5s / Family (2 adults and up to 4 children): £30.
Day Ticket (only available between exhibitions): Adult: £9.00 Child (5-15): £5, Free for under 5s / Family (2 adults and up to 4 children): £20.90.
Annual Pass Exhibition Upgrade (upgrade per exhibition): Adult: £5.50.
Concessions (over 60s, students and unwaged): Get £1 off full price tickets.
Gold Membership: Adult: £32 (£28.80 Direct Debit) / Joint: £62 (£55.80 Direct Debit).
Silver Membership: Adult: £28 (£25.20 Direct Debit) / Joint: £54 (£46.60 Direct Debit).
Compton Verney, CV35 9HZ