The Best Historic Houses and Gardens to visit in the Cotswolds
Explore the prettiest houses, castles, and gardens in the iconic region known as the Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the country, covering 787 square miles across six counties. Beautiful countryside, picturesque villages, and vibrant market towns make the Cotswolds one of the most enjoyable places to visit – a true tourist’s dream.
And of course, a region of such breathtaking natural beauty is going to be a hub of historic houses and gardens. Some of our most impressive houses which open their doors to visitors are located in the Cotswolds. Here, we’re highlighting the very best. You can also view a map of all of these houses here.
Westonbirt House, Tetbury
Westonbirt House and Gardens are the creation of successive members of the Holford family, most notably titan of the nineteenth century – Robert Stayner Holford.
Robert invested the family wealth into the Westonbirt estate and his collection of fine art and books. With the help of his architect Lewis Vulliamy, Holford built Westonbirt House to a standard of quality that has rarely been equalled.
Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, it is one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture, landscape, and gardens in the region.
Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe
Sudeley Castle is one of England’s most picturesque castles, playing an important role in the nation’s history for over 1000 years.
The rooms and exhibits contain many fascinating treasures, from ancient Roman times to the present day.
Outside, the castle is surrounded by a breath-taking 1,200 acre estate and ten award-winning gardens. The centrepiece is the Queens Garden, so named because four of England’s queens – Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I – once walked upon the original Tudor Parterre.
Sudeley Castle & Gardens is also the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within its grounds – Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives. Today visitors can explore the beautiful 15th-century church where she lies entombed.
Hardwicke Court, Gloucester
Hardwicke Court was built by the Thomas Lloyd-Baker family in 1815 and is currently lived in and run by the seventh generation of the family.
Designed by Robert Smirke and set in beautiful parkland, the house has a simple elegance and the relaxed atmosphere of a family home. The house contains many pieces of beautiful furniture and art and the family hold connections to many notable historical figures.Interested? Explore their page here
Sezincote is a Mughal Indian palace set in the Cotswold Hills, created by the nabob Charles Cockerell in 1805. It is one of England’s most exotic country houses.
The house is surmounted by a copper dome and minarets, and set in a picturesque water garden with seven pools, waterfalls, a grotto, and a temple to Surya, the Hindu Sun God. A curving Orangery frames the Persian Garden of Paradise.
Berkeley Castle, Berkeley
Berkeley is a stunning medieval castle which has been the home of the Berkeley family since 1153.
Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn & Elizabeth I all stayed here and Edward II was murdered here. Castle tours reveal tapestries, paintings and fine silver. Terraced gardens are filled with unusual plants, a picnic area, and a lily pond.Interested? Explore their page here
Gardens in Gloucestershire
Kiftsgate Court Gardens, Chipping Camden
Kiftsgate is a family-run garden in the Cotswolds featuring rare plants and shrubs including the world-famous Kiftsgate rose.
It is the creation of three generations of female gardeners. The upper gardens around the house are planted to give harmonious colour schemes, whilst the sheltered lower gardens recreate the atmosphere of warmer countries.
Upton Wold, Moreton-In-Marsh
Upton Wold is known as the hidden garden of the Cotswolds.
Set in a beautiful Gloucestershire landscape, this private garden has been created over thirty years, originally with the help of landscape architects Hal Moggridge and the late Brenda Colvin.
Upton Wold Garden has an exceptional collection of trees, shrubs and plants, and also holds a National Collection of Juglans (Walnut) and of Pterocarya. It was awarded Judges' Choice Historic Houses Garden of the Year 2022.
Painswick Rococo Garden, Painswick
Painswick Rococo Garden is one of the country’s sole surviving complete rococo gardens.
Designed in the 1740s as a fanciful pleasure garden for Benjamin Hyett and his guests, this hidden valley offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and intriguing garden buildings.
A visit to Painswick Rococo Garden will take you back to the elegance and sophistication of the early 1700s. This was a time when gardens were fashionable theatrical sets, providing a stunning backdrop to decadent garden parties.
The Garden at Miserden, Stroud
With terraces overlooking the Golden Valley, The Garden at Miserden dates back to the seventeenth century.
The estate encompasses 850 acres of woodland, farmland, and gardens providing a sanctuary for wildlife and a tranquil escape to allow you to spend time with your family and friends.
From early spring visitors can enjoy beautiful flowering beds, shrubs, and fine topiary. Within the walled garden generous herbaceous borders run down either side, with a pergola of roses, stately spires of delphiunium and fine specimen trees nestle together with hydrandea villosa.
Did you know?
The word Cotswolds derives from two words: Cot meaning a sheep enclosure and Wold being a hill, thus “sheep enclosures on the hills.” A lot of the wealth in the area comes originally from the wool trade.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock
With its own special place in Britain’s history, Blenheim Palace is a true national treasure which brings wonder, delight and discovery to all who visit.
Home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, this masterpiece of 18th century baroque architecture boasts over 300 years of history. As a World Heritage Site, Blenheim is surrounded by more than 2000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped Parkland and Formal Gardens.Interested? Explore their page here
Kelmscott Manor, Lechlade
Kelmscott Manor was the Cotswold retreat of William Morris, Victorian textile designer, poet, novelist and father of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Morris loved the house as a work of true craftsmanship, totally unspoilt and unaltered, and in harmony with the village and the surrounding countryside.
He considered it so natural in its setting as to be almost organic, it looked to him as if it had, ‘grown up out of the soil;’ and with, ‘quaint garrets amongst great timbers of the roof where of old times the tillers and herdsmen slept.’ Its beautiful gardens, with barns, dovecote, a meadow and stream, provided a constant source of inspiration for Morris until his death in 1896.Interested? Explore their page here
Did you know?
The Porch House pub in Stow-on-the Wold can claim to be England’s oldest pub as it dates back to 947 AD when it was a hospice (a place of rest and refreshment) attached to Evesham Abbey.
Corsham Court, Corsham
The collection at Corsham Court contains important paintings by such masters as Fra Filippo Lippi, Van Dyck, Carlo Dolci, Joshua Reynolds and Sofonisba Anguissola.
The mirrors and tables in the Picture Gallery were designed by Robert Adam specially for the room.
Capability Brown was responsible for the layout of the Corsham Park to the east of the house and in the gardens, amongst the collection of specimen trees, is the oriental plane, which is acknowledged to be the largest spreading tree in the United Kingdom.Interested? Explore their page here
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