Top English Heritage country estates to visit in winter

Have you entered our fantastic competiton to win a year's English Heritage membership yet? Here's all the amazing places you could visit this autumn and winter. 

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Itching for some fresh air somewhere special? Our favourite English Heritage properties in England are perfect to visit during late autumn and winter. Haven’t got an EH membership? Enter our fantastic competition to get unlimited access to 400 beautiful sites across England. 

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Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden, Warwickshire

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The Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle is considered to be the finest of its type in the world. Each and every element of the garden has been kept true to its 1575 origins. In September 2014, a new £1.1million 18 metre high viewing platform was opened, allowing visitors to scale the heights of the tower, first built to woo Queen Elizabeth I. Explore what used to be the queen’s private rooms, enjoy the views she enjoyed and experience a whole new perspective on what was one of Elizabethan England’s finest buildings.

Witley Court and Gardens, Worcestershire

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For those on the lookout for sheer romance and a sense of fantasy, the gardens at Witley Court are perfect. Driving home the feeling of fantasy, the surrounding woodlands are home to a variety of trees and shrubs including a prolific population of fairytale Fly Agaric mushroom. The striking Perseus and Andromeda fountain, the focal point of the garden, goes off every 20 minutes on each hour with amazing height and creates a soul-stirring mist through which the surrounding autumn hues appear even more beautiful.

Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

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Over 90 acres of stunning splendour await at Wrest Park, which features a unique blend of English, Italian, Dutch and French influences. The landscaping of the gardens is spectacular, as too are the contrasting tones of the tulip trees, the Liquidambar and the Ginkgo biloba. Wrest Park’s famed Rose Garden has recently been restored to its former glory, in which an unmissable highlight is the rare ‘Lady of Shalott’ bloom.

Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

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The stately home itself may be the key feature at Audley End, but it’s impossible to ignore the way in which nature steals the show during autumn and early winter. Nature lovers will be in their element, surrounded by hauntingly beautiful trees including one of only two Quercus x audleyensis in the world. The walled kitchen garden is an ideal refreshment spot where you can enjoy the wonderful creations grown outdoors. 

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, South Yorkshire

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Late autumn is a glorious time visit to Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, not least to marvel upon the 150 species of birds feasting on over 100 holly varieties. Having recently undergone extensive restoration works, the grounds around Brodsworth Hall deliver a picture perfect setting for a delightfully aimless autumnal stroll.

The Home of Charles Darwin, Down House, Kent

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English history and heritage at its finest – Down House was the home and the inspiration of Charles Darwin and was the birthplace of many of his theories. During the autumn, the building’s Virginia Creeper jacket transforms to a scarlet red cloak which contrasts gorgeously with the purple tones of the Boston Ivy. The gardens also boast the so-called ‘thinking path’ Mr Charles Darwin himself used to regularly traverse when seeking a little inspiration.

Osborne, Isle of Wight

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Queen Victoria and Prince Albert called Osborne their country home and invested spectacular efforts in creating a one-of-a-kind seaside paradise. Restoration works have brought back the original 1901 ambience of the palace and its gardens, which included the replanting of the blooms personally selected by the royal family. And if the visual treats of the garden alone weren’t enough, Osborne is also one of England’s safest bets for a bit of red squirrel spotting. 

Belsay Hall Castle and Gardens, Northumberland

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Boasting fantastically formal gardens, curious blooms from all over the world and a genuinely dramatic landscape, Belsay Hall Castle is a firm-favourite with nature lovers. A maze of paths, bridges and tunnels combine to create a uniquely immersive natural environment where each turn brings a surprise. However perhaps the biggest highlights of an autumn stroll around Belsay Hall Castle, is the chance to see one of Britain’s famously elusive red squirrels. They may be low in numbers, but gaze long enough into the tapestry of majestic oaks and you might just see one or two.