The magnificent Palladian villa at Stourhead, completed in 1725, was designed by the Scottish architect Colen Campbell and built by Henry Hoare I. This was one of the first grand Palladian-style villas to be built in England and as such, it follows the correct tradition where the carriage entrance leads to the piano nobile where the state rooms are arranged. Hoare's great grandson Sir Richard Colt Hoare added the wings specifically to house his wonderful Regency collection of books, paintings and Chippendale furniture. With hills, water and classical architecture overlaid by a fabulous collection of trees and shrubs, Stourhead is the best example of a garden inspired by the great landscape painters of the seventeenth century. Its numerous classical temples and grottoes were designed to reflect the journey of Rome's legendry founder, Aeneas. Grade I Stockton House is an Elizabethan house packed with 21st century surprises. Built from Chilmark stone, the house was built by John Topp, a local clothier in the 1580s and most of its Jacobean features have survived.
©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey
Exclusive to Historic Houses members. Tickets £58 including mid-morning tea or coffee with shortbread at Stourhead and a two-course gastro-pub lunch at the Spread Eagle Inn followed by tea/coffee
Note: non-NT members pay £17.40 for entry to Stourhead
Booking opens on 2 September at 9.00 am