Grade I Highcliffe Castle has been described as the most important surviving house of the romantic and picturesque style of architecture which flourished at the end of the 18th century. A large amount of medieval French masonry was shipped across the Channel and used in its construction. It is this Norman and Renaissance carved stone, along with the Castle’s Gothic revival features and ancient stained glass, that make it appear older than it is. Built mainly between 1831 and 1836, the Castle was the realisation of one man’s fantasy, Lord Stuart de Rothesay, a distinguished diplomat. When he built Highcliffe Castle, he was following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Lord Bute, who had built an earlier mansion on the cliff-top site when it was just open heathland.

Grade II* Pylewell Park is set in magnificent 19th century pleasure grounds with early 20th century Asian and Australasian plant collections, a lily pond, and bridges brought back from Japan including a superb collection of rhododendrons that bloom in late April. The architectural history of Pylewell is typical of many country houses, a 17th-century core subsumed within a larger 18th-century house, which in turn was sympathetically extended at the end of the 19th century.

Tickets £55 including two-course lunch followed by tea or coffee.

Bookings open on 2 December at 9.00 am