Palatial playgrounds: What are the best stately homes in London?

Stately homes open to the public are perfect playgrounds for a day of posh escapades. Spoiler alert: many of them are scattered across the capital, ready for your exploration.

For today’s article, we’ve sifted through the aristocratic haystack to present the best ones to visit. Join us as we navigate the grandeur and grace of London’s most distinguished residences (and those near the capital), where every room tells a story and every garden whispers of a bygone era! 

Stately homes in London

Strawberry Hill House

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Location: 268 Waldegrave Rd, Twickenham TW1 4ST, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 8744 1241

Website

Back in the 1700s, Horace Walpole decided he needed a home that would put all other homes to shame. Enter Strawberry Hill House, or as the cool kids call it, Strawberry Hill. This gem is the OG of eccentricity, with Walpole’s funky style oozing from its white castle exterior.

Setting foot inside is like diving headfirst into a sea of antiques and Renaissance paintings, surrounded by intricate tiles beneath your feet and walls blushing in a lovely shade of red.

But the best part here is that the house hosts a plethora of events each month. Whether you’re into dinner clubs, bookish gatherings or getting lost in the world of theatre shows, this stately home has you covered. 

Eltham Palace

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Location: Court Yard, London SE9 5QE, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 8294 2548

Opening hours: 

  • Saturday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Website

Eltham Palace is no ordinary home. It’s a place that started as a Medieval palace and then decided to don an Art Deco suit for some modern flair. But the real showstopper was the 1930s transformation done by Stephen and Virginia Courtauld, a pair of millionaires who knew how to throw a design party. 

They infused the place with the latest technology of the era, turning it into a beacon of sophistication. An absolute must-see is a bathroom – a lavish sanctuary adorned with gold mosaic and onyx, boasting taps that are practically dripping gold. 

Ham House

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Location: Ham St, Ham, Richmond TW10 7RS, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 8940 1950

Opening hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Website

Ham House and Garden is a gem from the 17th century that stands proudly as one of the exceptional Stuart houses. Just a leisurely 10-mile jaunt from the heart of Central London, it sits gracefully on the tranquil bank of the River Thames.

Wandering through its halls is like stepping into a living history book, adorned with art that echoes the tales of the families who called it home over the centuries. Plus, the 17th-century walled garden has a riot of plants, supplying the on-site cafe with homegrown goodness. 

Oh, and they also offer activities here to entertain the young ones. Try the free tours too, which are led by knowledgeable volunteers who are practically walking encyclopaedias of historical tidbits. 

Kenwood House

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Location: Hampstead Ln, London NW3 7JR, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 370 333 1181

Opening hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Website

Crafted by the architectural virtuoso Robert Adam in the 18th century, Kenwood House is a canvas of design brilliance. We’re particularly fond of the Great Library and its arched roof boasting ornamental designs that make reading seem like a regal affair.

Kenwood’s gardens are also a spectacle in themselves. As you wander through this green expanse, keep your eyes peeled for sculptures that seem to have emerged from the pages of a storybook.

The ancient woodland even adds a touch of mystery, and the Sham Bridge? Well, that’s a charming surprise waiting to be discovered. 

Apsley House

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Location: 149 Piccadilly, London W1J 7NT, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7499 5676

Opening hours: 

  • Wednesday – 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Saturday to Sunday – 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Website

Nestled on the southeast corner of Hyde Park, Apsley House (also known as No.1 London) is a grade-I listed Georgian marvel that was once the residence of the Duke of Wellington. Remarkably, its essence has been preserved since the Duke’s time.

The museum within its walls is a treasure trove dedicated to its former inhabitants, showcasing a captivating art collection featuring the works of Van Dyck, Goya, Velazquez, and Rubens. 

If you’re eager to dive deeper into Apsley’s House history and painting, guided groups are available.

Chiswick House

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Location: Burlington Ln, Chiswick, London W4 2RP, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 3141 3350

Opening hours: 

  • Monday to Sunday – 7:00 AM to 6:30 PM

Website

Chiswick House is a visual feast designed by the influential Lord Burlington. Imagine strolling through gardens inspired by ancient Rome and Greece, feeling like you’ve stumbled upon the secret garden of a stylish time traveller. 

With its Palladian design, the house is a tribute to neoclassical aesthetics. Inside, you’ll see an art collection from the likes of William Hogarth, Pompeo Batoni, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. 

Kensington Palace

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Location: Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 333 320 6000

Opening hours: 

  • Wednesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Website

Kensington Palace is in the VIP section of this historical party. Nestled in Kensington Gardens, this palace has seen more drama than a Shakespearean play. From royal births to scandalous affairs, it’s the OG reality show set in stone.

Ready for a dose of royal drama? Inside, you’ll dive into tales of Queen Victoria, the power duo William and Mary, and even get an intimate look at the fashion choices of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, and the iconic Diana. 

But let’s rewind the clock a bit. Before this place was a royal hotspot, Kensington Palace started as the quaint Nottingham House, your typical suburban villa – a far cry from the regal grandeur we associate with it today. 

Fenton House

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Location: Fenton House, Hampstead Grove, London NW3 6RT, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7435 3471

Website

It’s time to forget the notion that a stately home needs to be the size of a small country. Fenton House may not have the square footage of a palace, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm. 

Nestled in Hampstead, this state home boasts one of the most glorious walled gardens in London. You can set foot in a floral wonderland with apple orchards, buzzing bees, and a feeling of tranquillity that rivals a weekend spa retreat. 

Inside, Fenton House showcases an extensive collection of 17th-century furniture, porcelain, and artwork. Plus, it houses a collection of early keyboard instruments, making it a haven for music enthusiasts.

Stately homes near London

Hatfield House

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Location: Great North Rd., Hatfield AL9 5HX, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 1707 287010

Opening hours: 

  • Wednesday  to Sunday – 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Website

Hatfield House is a bit of a rebel. It’s like a cool cousin who lives just outside the city limits, about 20 miles north in Hertfordshire. But hey, when you’re diving into history and elegance, who’s counting miles? 

This state home is practically a time capsule. Elizabeth the Great strutted her stuff here during her childhood. Legend has it that this is where she got the news about her royal promotion.

By the way, Hatfield House is the brainchild of Robert Cecil and Robert Lyminge. The result? A Jacobean masterpiece that’s like the James Bond of stately homes – sophisticated, a bit mysterious, and timeless in its coolness. 

Chartwell House

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Location: Mapleton Rd, Westerham TN16 1PS, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 1732 868381

Opening hours: 

  • Monday  to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Website

Chartwell was Winston Churchill’s country pad, and it’s practically dripping with the essence of the man himself. 

Architecture-wise, it’s not the grandiose mansion you might expect. Chartwell is more like the cosy cottage of a world leader. It’s got that “I’ll lead a country from my study” vibe, complete with comfy chairs and iconic cigars. 

But don’t let the modesty fool you – the place is practically a museum of Churchilliana. His paintings, personal artefacts, and the very desk where he penned some of his finest speeches are all on display. It’s like a crash course in Churchill 101. 

Knole

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Location: Knole House, Sevenoaks TN15 0RP, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 1732 462100

Opening hours: 

  • Monday  to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Website

This bad boy in Kent boasts a whopping 1,000 acres of parkland, making it the lord of the manor when it comes to expansive estates. You can practically host a small festival on the grounds. 

Knole has been kicking it since the 15th century. The Sackville family, who have called this place home for generations, have collected enough stories to rival a Netflix series. From royal connection to scandalous love affairs, Knole has seen it all. 

Knole is just a train ride away from London, around 45 minutes from Charing Cross. So, it’s a legit day-trip contender if you’re craving a dose of history without the hassle of a road trip.

Polesden Lacey

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Location: Polesden Rd, Great Bookham, Leatherhead RH5 6BD, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 1372 452048

Opening hours: 

  • Monday  to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Website

Mrs Greville, a social butterfly with a penchant for elegance, turned Polesden Lacey into the ultimate countryside retreat. Here, film stars, nobility, politicians, and all the who’s who of London society gathered for a glittering array of parties that would make headlines even today.

The architectural maestros behind the transformation of Polesden Lacey were Mewes and Davis, the same brains behind the iconic Ritz Hotel in London. Each room at Polesden Lacey became a canvas of unique style and characters. 

Fun fact: In 1923, Mrs. Greville extended her hospitality by offering Polesden Lacey to the Duke and Duchess of York (later known as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) for their honeymoon. The couple spent two weeks basking in the splendour of this historic mansion.

Waddesdon Manor

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Location: Waddesdon, Aylesbury HP18 0JH, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 1296 820414

Opening hours: 

  • Saturday  to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Website

This place has serious street cred. Built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the late 19th century,  Waddesdon Manor is like the Rothschild family’s architectural mic drop. Think French château meets English countryside, creating a unique blend that screams ‘“fancy”. 

Inside you’ll find a killer art collection. From Renaissance paintings to decorative arts that make your IKEA look like child’s play, Waddesdon Manor is practically an art lover’s playground.

Chenies Manor House

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Location: Chenies, Rickmansworth WD3 6ER, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 1494 762888

Website

Chenies Manor House is a charming gabled beauty with its roots dating back to the 15th century, peppered with 16th-century tweaks for good measure, Back in the day, it was the homestead of the Russell family, the Earls of Bedford. 

Now, let’s talk interiors – the downstairs is a blend of Georgian and later furniture, though the decor is like a love letter to Tudor aesthetics. It’s a genuine family abode. 

Practical tip: Chenies Manor House is open to the public during specific times, so check ahead to make sure you catch it on one of its welcoming days. 

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